This May will mark 25 years since I was an eager college student embarking on an internship at MP&F Public Relations. Little did I know then that it would be the start of a rewarding career in communications. After a few years of client work under my belt, I began to manage our intern program and did that for seven years. For the better part of the last decade, I’ve been screening and interviewing all of our firm’s job candidates.

Needless to say, I’ve seen a lot of changes over the years regarding skills that make a successful PR practitioner. There’s a lot of great advice out there. Here’s mine.

Let me start with a few things that haven’t changed.

  • Strong written and verbal communications skills: To succeed in this industry (and likely just about any industry), you need to be able to write and speak well. This goes for everything from an interoffice email to presenting an idea to a client. Interested in improving your writing? The single most helpful thing you can do to become a better writer – read more.
  • Variety of experience: This goes for recent college graduates as well as those with more experience. The greater variety of things you’ve done before you come to work for us, the more you bring to the table. This doesn’t mean having a bunch of different jobs, although it could. You can also get a lot of different experiences at one job.
  • Positive attitude and flexibility: Not much goes further than simply treating others with kindness. Agency work in particular can be very chaotic and overwhelming. Don’t add to anyone’s stress by being a jerk. Also, things change daily, sometimes hourly, for clients. You have to be willing to “go with the flow.”

So what are the skills we are looking for more of in 2018?

  • Something a little extra. College program offerings are changing, and that in and of itself is bringing us job candidates with different skill sets. Academic degrees called Strategic Communication and Integrated Marketing Communications are interesting and on-point. Or maybe you have video skills, or speak multiple languages. Bring it on.
  • Digital. Digital. Digital. It is 2018 after all, and it’s a digital world we’re living in. Everyone lives on the internet, and it’s no secret that social media is used not only for personal reasons, but as a business tool. Our digital game is strong. If you want to work for us, yours should be too.
  • Data and analysis. Did I mention digital? With so much of our communications strategies’ being digital, we have the ability to track and analyze our audiences’ behaviors. Having the skill set to not only look at that data of behaviors and engagement, but then be able to analyze it to inform communications strategy – those are skills that will take you to the next level in your communications career.

Need cover letter and resume tips? Here are some I offered a few years ago that still ring true. Want to work for MP&F? Visit our “Careers” page. We have a high-energy office in the heart of downtown Nashville, where we do great work and have fun every day.