Digital Skills: Views from the PR industry
Recently, PR Week (Wednesday 13 January 2010) ran an article lamenting the level of digital skills within the PR industry. Using stats provided by recruitment agency Major Players, Matt Cartmell highlighted the gap between PR roles that require digital skills and the relatively small number of candidates who mention these attributes on their CV.
Whilst the article contained some interesting snippets of information, it left me with more questions than answers, namely:
1. Who should be teaching digital skills?
2. What digital skills do employers want?
3. How can people demonstrate digital skills?
I enlisted the help of industry colleagues Marshall Manson, Director of Digital Strategy at Edelman and Stephen Waddington, Managing Director at Speed Communications to share their thoughts on these questions.
“1. In my experience, academics are good at teaching principles and lousy at teaching practicalities. So most of the training is going to have to be done by employers in a professional setting. Mostly though, PRs need to take the time to build experience. That’s what I’m always looking for nowadays.
2. Experience. Real depth. Understanding of how the platforms really work. And increasingly (especially at senior levels), real insight into how to build strategies and work with the platforms to undertake successful campaigns built on conversation. Also critical: Ability to listen to the conversation and discern insights.
3.Talk the talk. And back it with real examples.”
1. The digital PR industry is too immature for formal teaching courses to have been developed. The rules have yet to be written. But there are plenty of good books and lots of materials online. And the tools are free are readily available for anyone to experiment.
2. If you’re new to PR you need to build your own social networks on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. And you need to develop content on a blog platform, Flickr and YouTube. Likewise if you’re in PR and want to stay in PR you equally need to learn how to use digital techniques to create and seed content.
3. It’s the old adage. Show me what you’ve done don’t tell me what you could do. Build out your own social networks and use a blog platform, Flickr or YouTube. I am constantly astonished at the number of PR and journalism students that aren’t sufficiently motivated to experiment with these new forms of media. I would always choose someone that had made the effort versus someone that had not.”
I’d like to put on record my thanks to both Marshall and Stephen for sparing the time to give their views on this issue. I’m sure any graduate looking to break into the PR industry in 2010 will find this a valuable post. On a personal note: I look forward to exploring this topic more closely in an article for Behind the Spin magazine.