The New Breed of PR Pro: Top Must-Have Tech Skills

Posted by on June 8th, 2012

Our job as communicators is to understand how, where and when people are talking about our clients’ brands.  This means we must be on top of not just traditional media channels, but social media, mobile and emerging technology.  We must also be able to measure our results and the impact of our work.  Thankfully, Internet technology is providing critical tools to help us effectively communicate, manage and track our efforts.

Understanding the media, being able to write well, time management, and organizational skills are all requirements of the PR job, but there is a new set of technology skills every PR pro needs to know in order to execute at the drop of a dime (or the first Tweet of a crisis).  Following is a list of the top tech-savvy skills that will not just make the job easier, but are necessities to meet the demands of a results-driven and time-sensitive industry:

  1. Manage Social Media Channels – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ are among the top social channels in the US, but certainly not the only ones.  Tools such as HootSuite, TweetDeck and TwitterFeed help to streamline and consolidate the activity and management of these channels. Most also offer analytics, so efforts can be measured. PR people need to know how to post to these channels (client passwords required), change backgrounds, update profiles and post multi-media such as video and audio files.
  2. Update Corporate Blogs – The most common platforms are WordPress, Tumblr and Blogger.  PR folks need to understand how these platforms work and feel confident in being able to post a variety of content formats.  Also, having access to a web designer and developer – either client-side, freelance or internal – can make a huge difference when major changes need to be executed quickly.
  3. Conduct Basic Keyword Analysis – For many PR efforts, the true first audience is Google.  We write press releases for distribution on the Internet to make the content searchable.  The key to optimizing that content is keywords.  While the client or web marketing team can provide these, enterprising PR folks will take a look for themselves to see the volume of searches for important keywords and how difficult it will be to gain traction around them.  Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool is the best place to do your homework.
  4. Track, Measure and Move – Why put a link in a press release if you can’t track it?  Using Bit.ly for links is imperative to track how many clicks those links are getting.  Otherwise, you will never know. Also, services such as Klout, Facebook Reports and Compete.com allow you to see the impact of your efforts.  Analytics mark growth and reach. One major problem that persists today is how to move giant multi-media files around.  How do you get that broll package to the producer across the country in 10 min? Try YouSendIt or DropBox for mega files.
  5. Access Anything, Anywhere – Having a mobile device that will allow you to access critical applications such as blogs, media databases, social media platforms and cloud-based file sharing is an absolute necessity.  Google Drive, Hotmail SkyDrive, GoogleDocs, Basecamp and Campfire are all excellent cloud-based collaboration tools that allow you to access and share important files from anywhere.  Devices such as smartphones and tablets give you the connectivity, responsiveness, access and speed you need to handle media inquiries when they happen.
  6. Run a Webinar – Webinars are a great communications vehicle and a frequently recommended PR tactic.  It is imperative that PR people are self-reliant and know how to facilitate a GoToWebinar or a WebEx session.  The day your IT guy is out, will for sure, be the day you have to take the helm.