For a few years after going freelance way back in 2003 I created and delivered a number of training courses for UK PR consultancies. I haven’t done much for the past couple of years, but have just been asked to meet an agency to chat about its training requirements. If nothing else, it’s good to know that even when things are tight, agencies still recognise the need to invest in their employees’ skills and development.
Digging out the courses I created those years ago, a few things struck me. Firstly, I’d actually built quite a comprehensive set of practical and pragmatic training courses. Created for a number of different clients, I’d never really pulled them into a coherent whole. I really should.
Secondly, it’s interesting to see what content needs updating and what has remained consistent, given the much talked about changes we’ve seen in the PR and communications landscape in recent years. The logical thought might be that a great deal of the content is outdated, and very much more suited to the ‘old world’ of PR.
It isn’t true, of course. Many of the fundamentals have stayed the same. One of my courses which always seemed to go down pretty well was the Strategy Development training. Basing communications strategies on insights delivered through audience research, and the tools and techniques you can use to create a robust strategy within which to unleash your creativity, remain as relevant today as they ever have. I’d be worried if it were any different. Similarly, PR professionals need to be able to manage their time and workloads, and build mutually-beneficial relationships with their clients.
The pool of influencers with which relationships need to be created and managed has expanded; the focus in years gone by has very much been traditional media, so that will need some updating. Helping agency employees get their heads around social media and digital channels has been something I’ve done a bit of in recent years, so that’s a course that should almost write itself.
A couple of areas that I do think will need more original material are crisis management and content creation. The take the second of these first, to PR pros in the past, content creation has primarily meant the written word (so a writing skills course was handy…). Being able to turn out good, accurate, compelling copy is still something that has to be in the toolkit of every PR consultant, but an awareness of and ability to recommend when, for instance, video would be a more effective medium is growing in importance. Further to that, the ability to actually create video and audio content to a decent quality is going to be vital.
Finally, while the nature of the issues and crises that affect organisations has largely remained the same, the way they manifest themselves and the speed with which they spread and grow has changed markedly with the rise in social and digital media. This, again, is something that round PR consultants need to be skilled in.
So that’s all the stuff that has been around for a while and would benefit from some updating. In terms of brand new stuff, well I reckon as the basis I’ll nick Rob Brown’s recent blog post on the five things every PR person needs to think about…
Oh, and if you fancy having a chat about any training for your people, drop me a note. Contact details are in the ‘About‘ page.