Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Importance of Strong Written and Oral Communication Skills in the field of Public Relations

The Importance of Strong Written and Oral Communication Skills in the field of Public Relations 

Students entering the workforce must establish a competitive advantage in order to standout from their peers. According to the AACU, among the 10 top qualities employers are looking for in a college graduate is the ability to write and communicate well. While important in any industry, strong written and oral communication skills are particularly important in public relations due to the nature of the field. At its core, public relations, is the strategic communication process that develops and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their key publics according to PRSA

PR professionals’ main weapon is to writing and releasing, favorable or unfavorable information about an organization to the public. This can only be accomplished through strong written skills and effective communication skills both internally and externally. 

The Real Meaning of Effective Communication 

There are numerous definitions of an effective communicator: someone who shares thoughts and ideas with their peers, someone who informs, someone who persuades others to accept their ideas, and someone who communicates so that their ideas create a common perception amongst others resulting in a change of behavior. Being an effective communicator is one of the key ingredients to success in any business or field, but particularly important in public relations. As professionals who majored in "Communication," it is their job to affectively convey messages to their co-workers and clients in a timely and organized manner. Effective communication can be portrayed in several ways:

1. Ability to communicate an important message or memo in as little
    messages as possible 
     2. Require less explanation or clarification on proposals, final
         projects and proposals
     3. Make sure your voice is heard, in a respectful manner 
     4. Get the message across in as little as 140 characters (Twitter) 

It is also important to remember that while these are the templates for effective communication, the world we live in and way in which we communicate is rapidly changing. Just this past week the text message celebrated its 20-year anniversary. That's 20 years of "Hey, What's up?" or, "TTYL", and "Love U’s!” I'm sure most of us cannot even imagine a time when Internet was not available on our phones, let alone text messaging. With the growing importance of accessible Internet and available information, social media and social networking sites have become exponentially essential in the past decade.

What's Social Media Got To Do With It? 

So how does this all tie-in together? What does social media and social networking have to do with the importance of strong written and oral communication skills in public relations? 

One story, multiple platforms
Photo Credit: macguru.biz
Stellar writing skills are important in public relations because writing accounts for about 75% of the profession’s daily tasks, jobs and projects. PR professionals must understand the value of their company or clients content and know how to most effectively convey that information to the public. In 2012, with the ever-growing importance of social media and social networking sites, PR professionals now have a plethora of platforms where they are expected to display their information. Even trickier is that not all platforms are the same; some require different formats, different character limits, and often heavily rely on graphics as opposed to words or visa-versa. Having strong writing skills allows public relation’s professionals to successfully perform their jobs: communicate the correct message and be able to mold that message to suit multiple platforms.

Many experts and professionals in the field, including Professor Pamela Grant, of the University of Maryland, have made the argument that tweeting and texting are actually beneficial to young PR professionals.  Having become accustomed to a limit of 140 characters, blogging and Facebook, “Millenials” and recent college graduates have been put at an advantage and optimal position in the workforce.

The Future of Public Relations

Bob Dylan once said, “The times they are a-changin’”, and boy was he right. In 2012, technology, the environment and the way we communicate are changing more rapidly than ever before. These changes have already begun to affect the modern business world and will only continue to change it and help it grow.

So what is the future of public relations? As a communication major with a focus in public relations, this matter is very concerning to me. It is important for students, like myself, to understand where public relations is headed towards, in order to properly prepare for our future in the workplace.

In my COMM350: PR Theory class I have learned about the importance of public relations and the growing importance it holds as it relates to social media. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics public relations is expected to grow by 24% through 2018 as a result of the social media boom. More and more organizations and firms are going to need the assistance of PR professionals to maintain their image, keep up on trends and effectively communicate in the digital world.

As a junior Communication major with a focus in public relations, I am eager to master my writing and communication skills over the next two years. The road ahead seems full of possibilities and I cannot wait for the future. 

Mariel Rothman, a junior Communication major also sees the importance of strong written and oral communication skills in the field of public relations: 

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