What Makes a Good Public Relations Person
by David L. Shank, APR
Shank Public Relations Counselors

1. Integrity and ethical grounding – know what’s right and what to do if you’re asked to do something else.

2. The ability to think through difficult issues and to be able to see around the corner at what may be coming at you; and see forward weeks and months and years at what may be expected in the future.

3. Understand how people think and respond to the culture and world around them.

4. Be versed in numerous disciplines – psychology, sociology, history, government, current affairs, science, BUSINESS!

5. Be a GOOD WRITER – who is easily understood, can comprehend difficult topics and simplify them to the level that Aunt Norma at the Beauty Shop can understand it. On the other hand you must be able to write at more sophisticated levels for white papers, speeches, articles, presentations, etc.

6. Be able to write in numerous formats and switch gears instantly. How you write a Tweet, isn’t the same as writing an 0p-ed for the New York Times, writing a blog isn’t the same as writing a technical article for a business magazine.

7. Understand the culture around us – what significance does “Desperate Housewives” have? What does “The Twilight Saga” say to the 18-24 year old segment? What does “American Idol” mean to the American desire to see quality talent and earned success? What do bloggers, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest ment to our society?

8. Be curious – why did he/she say that? Is that really the only solution? How does that work? Why did that group respond that way? How can I structure my program to get a different result?

9. Be confident but not arrogant – speak your mind when it’s supported by facts or experience. As baseball Hall of Famer and broadcaster Dizzy Dean once said – “It ain’t braggin’ if you done it.”

10. Be a problem solver: We are by definition problem solvers. How do I introduce this product or service? How do I protect the company reputation? How do I get this new technology to work for my client or organization? How do I get the package to that city in the next 45 minutes?

11. Understand technology and its application, but not necessarily be a technogeek. Know how the Internet is useful and a detriment; understand blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, Ning; web pages, videostreaming, Skype interviews, etc. IMHO: social media IS NOT the answer to everything!

12. Understand news media in all of its various forms – know what is news and what is not; understand the continuing 24-second news cycle; understand deadlines and how newsrooms around the world work. Know how journalists think, work, act, write.

13. Be proactive and optimistic – don’t adhere to “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” but rather “if it’s not broken, improve it.”

14. Be flexible, but organized.

15. Be able to do a dozen things at the same time – this business does not allow linear thinking and delivery.

16. Be accountable and dependable.

17. Be good to yourself.

18. Have fun.

18+1. You don’t have to “like people.”