Updated: May 10, 2019
With new forms of media and distribution popping up every day, the field of public relations (PR)
is buzzing about all the resources they now have to shape stories and influence public opinion.
It’s an exciting time to pursue a career in this industry.
Although PR has changed over the years, certain tried-and-true skillsets are still very relevant.
Learn the top four traits employers want in a PR Specialist and how to make sure you demonstrate all of them in your next interview.
Your goal as a PR professional is to capture attention and sway opinion. And there’s no better way to do that than through storytelling. In fact, studies have shown that stories affect the brain differently than listening to purely factual content. Employers want to know that you can promote their organization’s mission by sharing their story in unique, relatable ways.
Questions they might ask to see if you’re a storyteller:
Tell me about yourself.
What is your greatest strength/weakness?
3 Ways to Demonstrate Your Storytelling Skills:
Think ahead about how you can answer key interview questions with a brief story, rather than simple statement of facts.
Practice incorporating the elements of a good story – set up, conflict, climax, and resolution – to make it engaging.
Share your stories with friends and family to get feedback on your body language and tone.
2. Confident Speaker
As a member of the PR team, you act as the face of your organization. You might need to speak at conferences, on a news segment, or at a fundraising event – sometimes with little notice. Employers want to know you’ll be professional, confident, and prepared.
Questions they might ask to see if you’re a confident speaker.
Are you comfortable with public speaking?
Are you able to think quickly on your feet?
How to show them you’re a confident speaker:
Use the interview to demonstrate your preparation and confident manner as you answer questions.
Explain what you do before an event to be as prepared as possible.
Tell them about any opportunities you’ve had to practice your speaking skills.
Talk about a mentor (or business leader) that you try to model yourself after when speaking.
In today’s world of information overload, it takes more than a press release (even the best press release ever!) to get the word out about your organization, its people, or products. Not every pitch to every media outlet will result in a front-page article at exactly the right time. It’s about being smart and persistent in your PR activities. Employers want a candidate who won’t take the easy route or give up when they’re not making any traction.
Questions they might ask to see if you’re persistent:
Tell us about a time you had to work through a difficult problem.
How do you handle stress?
How to show them you’re persistent:
Share a story (using the principles noted earlier) to demonstrate your willingness to power through setbacks, whether in a job or at school.
Talk about how you approach problems so they don’t become major obstacles (asking for help, taking a break, or researching options).
Tell them about how you keep work from affecting your health or productivity (exercise, mindfulness, rest, breathing, etc.).
To do your job successfully, you need good working relationships with individuals both inside and outside your organization. When pitching to media, PR Specialists must read people well, understand their motivations, and know how to persuade. When creating a PR campaign,
your team will work collaboratively with marketing, sales, and leadership to bring all the
necessary pieces together. Employers want to see candidates who have the right demeanor
to build solid relationships.
Questions they might ask to see if you’re a collaborator:
How do you handle a difficult coworker?
Give an example of a successful project you worked on as a team.
How to show them you’re a collaborator:
Emphasize your listening skills and how you see others’ perspectives.
Point out your best skill when it comes to teamwork (leadership, organization, follow-through) and play that up in your story.
Keep these four traits in mind in your next interview and you’ll be one step ahead of your competition. Good luck in your career as a PR Specialist!