The Evolution of the PR Executive

Written by Tara Mulvany

I recently asked myself if a qualification in public relations was still a pre-requisite to working in the industry. Having just sat in on an interview process where a number of the candidates hadn’t undertaken any course in PR, I had to think about the answer.

Some of the candidates had qualifications in other areas relevant to the marketing mix like design, marketing or advertising. Despite having dipped their toe in these industries, they’d come to the conclusion that PR was their true calling.

What we needed from the process was a candidate who (a) possessed natural creativity (this is also what our clients are looking for in executives) (b) knew how to demonstrate it through their CV (c) considered a quirky approach to our company and (d) who ideally had a active and engaging blog (to demonstrate a more ‘social style’ of writing, as well as an empathy with fellow bloggers).

The candidates that applied didn’t disappoint. We received CV’s in the form of infographics and cover letters that came in every shape, size and colour (even pink!). It struck me just how much the PR executive had evolved over the past 10 years and how the landscape for students coming into the industry has changed considerably. Gone are the days when you show up to the interview in a nice suit with a traditional CV.

But, while creative skills were paramount, it was the candidates who demonstrated an understanding of how to use those skills in the right way and in the right context that outshone the others.

In theory, you don’t need a PR qualification to understand context and tone, to value reputation and relationship management and to have sound business judgement and acumen – but, in practice, it certainly helps! These are the traditional aspects of PR training that an accredited course provides and that give the student a true understanding of PR and the role of the PR executive.

Certain aspects of the job can be learned on the spot. But without appropriate training, it’s a long and rocky road.

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