As I mentioned before in this blog, the public relations discipline has evolved and matured over recent years and consequently the expectations regarding public relations professionals and communications results. The growth of the PR market stimulated competition in the professional arena: the number of practitioners increased, better salaries motivated the migration of journalists to the PR field and the market was invaded by new agencies.
This is also true for Brazil; according to the Brazilian Association of Communications Agencies (ABRACOM) the Brazilian market has an estimated number of 1,100 agencies with revenues of local agencies reaching around of US$1bn last year, where private sector was responsible for 80 per cent of PR business.
In a recent interview to PRWeek the ABRACOM’s president Ciro Dias Reis said that “PR market in Brazil grew by 20 per cent in 2009, a further 20 per cent in 2010 and he estimates it will grow 15 per cent in 2011”. With the proximity of World Cup (2014) and the Olympics (2016), the local economic growth and investments of foreign companies sectors such as energy, technology, infrastructure, agribusiness and consumer the country will represent a good business opportunity for communication field.
The World Report from the International Communications Consultancy Organization (ICCO) reported that the Brazil’s PR industry grew faster than any other in 2010 and presented a high demand for social media services, internal communications and crisis management. However, the report also alerts that, despite of market growth, the lack of experienced PR professionals is still preventing international agencies to invest more in the country and may represent a bottle neck for future growth.
Therefore, with the local communications market more competitive and demanding, recruiting and developing the right PR team is a key success factor and that depends on blending several types of skills and behavioral attributes.
Key behavioral attributes of a public relations practitioner – related to the professional’s personality and attitude:
- Sociability: being a relationship builder requires social skills to create and maintain a wide range of connections in different levels. The professional needs to know how to manage the relationship along with senior executives, journalists, employees, suppliers, co-workers from various departments, bloggers, customers – all with diverse expectations and interests.
- Versatility: the ability to perform well in a variety of sectors and positions. The professional should be specialized in communication irrespective of the industry sector he/she is in.
- Investigative: the professional should have a constant desire for learning and a questioning mind, since frequently they will be dealing with subjects out of their area of expertise. Constant learning about the company’s products, services, industry and competition or specific issues related with finance, production and legal areas are a constant requirement of a communication’s practitioner.
- Integrity: the main resource of the public relations professional is credibility. The professional should bear in mind that his integrity and the reliability of his work are essential to the company’s reputation and his own professional image.
- Analytical mind: the professional needs to be capable of analyzing a situation quickly, finding the possible gaps and proposing solutions to the problem. Having good judgment and the ability to assess complex situations, considering different views and perspectives, is especially important to avoid or manage crises and issues.
- Resilience: in this field the ability to work under pressure is essential. Short deadlines, hostile audiences, high expectations, low control regarding the outcomes, unforeseen events and crises can be daily occurrences so resilience and a positive attitude are critical to this job.
- Discipline and organization: bringing concrete value to business requires a lot of discipline and organization to implement programs, keep track of results, contacts, past occurrences, best practices, news and trends.
Key skills of a public relations practitioner – related to technical requirements that a professional should have to perform:
- Writing and Editing: the production of content materials to be divulged to different audiences is an important portion of the public relations work. So it’s important to have a good understanding of how to convey messages to different audiences and communicate in a clear and concise way.
- Research: it’s imperative that the professional understands how research works and how to use it. When either gathering information regarding trends, customer behavior, emerging issues and media coverage, conducting media audits or using the research data to reach coverage.
- Marketing Knowledge: understanding the main concepts of marketing discipline is important since marketing communications is one of the most well known part of corporate communications.
- Media knowledge: understanding of the news production process in different media outlets and how to produce and edit content for it.
- Project planning and management: each communications program involves a number of communication tools that must be carefully planned, implemented and coordinated. Usually the communications manager handles a few public relations programs for multiple business units simultaneously, so it’s imperative for the professional to have planning and project management familiarity.
- Financial management: planning, justifying and controlling the budget of public relations departments or programs are integral part of the job description.
- Networking skills: the ability to build and maintain relationships and networks is essential to this profession.
- New media: deep understanding of new media and ability to integrate it in the communication strategy.
- Communications expert: finally, the professional should have an overall understanding of the corporate communication concepts and their practical relevance in the business strategy.