Communicating is so integral to how we live our daily lives that most of the time, we don’t even notice it. It’s how we interact with the people around us, form deeper connections, transfer meaning, and express ourselves.
For Public Relations (PR) professionals, however, communication is a skill that must be learned, mastered, and executed very intentionally.
If you want to build a career as a PR professional and are considering earning a master’s degree in public relations, then keep reading to get the top skills you need to launch or enhance your PR career and learn how a graduate degree in strategic communications can help you master them.
1. Interpersonal communication
Mastering the art of communication — in small groups or one-on-one — may seem simple for some, but it’s actually a nuanced skill that requires practice, research, and diligence.
Effective communicators can empathize with their audience and are receptive and responsive to their feedback. Tailoring your communication approach to your audience can help you pitch stories, give feedback, and build your network.
Here are five easy ways you can improve your interpersonal communication skills right now:
- Have Clear Intent. Consider the purpose of your conversation and clearly define what message you want to convey.
- Focus on the Other Person. Remember eye contact! Avoid glancing at your phone or appearing distracted. Show interest in what the other person is saying and be invested in their perspective.
- Ask Questions. As a follow-up question; asking questions is a great way to show that you are engaged and retaining information.
- Positively Express Critique. When delivering critique, open with a positive attitude and keep it constructive.
- Always Include a Call to Action. End the conversation on a positive note with a key takeaway, whether that is gathering contact information for a follow-up email or encouraging the other party to attend an event or gathering. Always leave a conversation with an action item that relates back to your original intent.
2. Public speaking
As a PR professional, public speaking is a skill that you’ll need to call upon regularly. Whether you’re speaking at a press conference, giving an interview, or presenting in a room full of people, you’ll need to be confident speaking in front of a group.
If you’re not able to deliver a clear message, you could negatively impact both your personal brand and the clients you represent. It’s not something that comes naturally to everyone, but it’s an essential skill for someone who’s interested in a career in PR.
Kelly Grant, an SCPR alum who works in Public Relations, Media Affairs, Social Media, and Recruitment for the Connecticut State Police, shared how her education helped prepare her for her career.
“The well-structured Strategic Communications and Public Relations grad program has not only helped strengthen my ability to effectively communicate with the community and media, but also provided me with the communication skills needed to navigate the many challenges faced in the area of public interest communication.”
- Kelly Grant
Public speaking is a highly marketable skill that will serve you well in assembling a competitive resume and prepare you for future leadership positions.
Earning a master's degree in public relations from SHU will help you build your confidence and credibility with public speaking and presenting. You’ll graduate with the enhanced leadership, communication, problem-solving, and content creation skills you need to succeed as a PR professional.
The media we consume every day — whether it’s advertising, entertainment, music, you name it — influences, shapes, or disrupts our view of the world.
Doctor Lori Bindig Yousman, Department Chair, Communication Studies and Assoc. Professor, has conducted extensive research on this topic, specifically on critical television studies and media literacy. She has written several books on the way people, particularly young audiences, use popular media as a way to understand and navigate the world around them.
What does that mean for PR professionals?
By bringing a sociological understanding of media, as with Dr. Bindig Yousman’s example, we are better prepared to conduct effective PR campaigns and social messaging. In simpler terms, the better you understand how media works, the greater impact you can have in your PR career.
4. Social Media
In today’s world, being plugged in is usually as automatic as getting up in the morning. Almost everyone is online consuming some kind of content every single day, which is why more than 50% of marketers plan on increasing their investments in Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok in 2022.
For example, short-form videos are quickly replacing posts and pictures in the feed thanks to apps like TikTok and Instagram’s Reels feature. In fact, 85% of marketers ranked short-form videos as the most effective type of social media content in 2021.
Social media is how we spread information, share ideas, and build brand recognition, so it’s a good idea to add social media proficiency to your list of PR communication skills.
In the Strategic Communications and PR program at SHU, students learn to be trend detectives and how to leverage social media to build their own resumes and increase results on the most popular platforms.
5. Written Communications
Much like verbal communication, written communication is about what you say as much as how you say it. If you plan to work in the U.S., mastering the basics of English spelling and grammar, form, and structure will get you far in a PR career.
As a PR professional, a bulk of your time may be spent writing. Whether it’s press releases, emails, talking points, media statements, or social media posts, a good PR professional is a good writer.
The best public relations graduate programs will teach you how to write effective copy and timely articles for your key audiences — and that, in a sense, is what public relations is all about.
Achieve your pr goals at shu
To learn more about how earning a master’s degree in PR can help you achieve your career goals, download our free guide to the School of Communication, Media & the Arts at SHU. In this resource, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at our courses, facilities, faculty, and what makes SHU stand out from the competition.