What PR Pros Need In Their Repertoire

⌛ By Kaylin R. Staten

I’ve been a public relations practitioner for almost 10 years, and let’s just say I’ve learned a lot along the way. I used to be the hustler just for the sake of hustling. Lunch at my desk every day. Check! Working every evening. Check! Waiting months to take a break. Check, check, check!

Success means sacrifice, yes, but it doesn’t have to come at such a high price. I mean, it’s OK to go out to dinner with a friend every once in a while. It’s completely fine to take an off-night or off-weekend to spend recharging after a major event.

Now, I’m a strategic hustler. I work just as hard and burn the midnight oil, but there’s that new version of me that likes to take a breather to find new inspiration, spend time with loved ones and stop to smell the roses (or in my case, the dahlias). If you’re in the PR industry, you know what needs to be in your toolkit. You have to communicate well orally and on paper. You serve as your organization’s moral compass. You assess issues and trends within the industry and your target audiences. You know the RPIE process both forward and backward. You’ve built your reputation on your hard work and drive.

But, what else do you need besides those things you learned in a textbook and on the job? The following list has some items you probably already have, but some you could hone.

Here are five things every PR pro needs in his or her repertoire:

Life-Long Learning

I am an information junkie. I love subscribing to eNewsletters, reading blog posts from my favorite thought leaders and just generally taking in as much as I can. Even through osmosis, if I could. I graduated from college in 2010, so I'm a little removed from the classroom. My experience continues to give me examples to live by and to swear off in the future, but I always want to hone my craft. That's why the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)-River Cities Chapter and PRSA National are so beneficial. I also have an entire collection of podcasts, email subscriptions and YouTube channels. I told you, I like learning new things! 

And please invest time, money and energy into the Research and Evaluation stages of the RPIE process. I still see a deficit in this when I review case studies.

P.S. Learn about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other technological advances. It’s important to be knowledgable and ahead of the curve!

Storytelling Strategies and Tactics

In today’s constant turnover of new information, it’s vital to tell a story that will resonate with your target audiences. Get them to stop in the middle of their newsfeed or actually go out and purchase that hot new item you’re helping to market. Convince them that the local nonprofit you’re communicating about really does need your contribution. How can you do this? There are myriad ways, but some of the most basic (and easiest to implement yourself!) tactics are: photos, testimonials, blog posts, videos, infographics, etc. And don’t worry about videos being perfect. People want authenticity more than they want perfection. (This is something that I still have to practice!) Just don’t mess up your grammar. That’s still in bad taste. ;)


This was mentioned above, but it’s important enough to mention twice. All of us have to manage issues -- and in some cases, our emotions -- during a crisis. Having a PR face and strategy in this case is expected and necessary. But, turn that part of the profession off for the most part. I know it sounds weird. I spent most of my career trying to project this image of perfection to everyone. Even those closest to me. But, guess what? Sometimes, I have typos in press releases. Something I may say may not come out as intended. I make mistakes. All of us do. As long as we learn from them and move on, then it’s OK. I’m able to showcase my true self more as a business owner, which is something that I should have been doing all along. If someone doesn’t like you for who you really are, move on to the next person.

Support System

Having a support system to help you during your darkest days and brightest moments is ESSENTIAL. I took it for granted in my 20s. I really did. But, I did not get to where I am without support from some very special people around me. My husband, family members, friends, mentors, educators, clients. You may not feel like you have a support system, and if you feel that way, find one! Support can come in the form of a pet, favorite podcast, a Facebook group of other professionals like you. Do what helps you along your journey. And I’d be remiss to not mention all of those Picard and Janeway quotes I have to help motivate me to be a better leader. Captain of the U.S.S. Hourglass.

Shoutout to my husband for being my eternal champion.

Relaxation and Self-Care

You know that bucket list you’ve started but have yet to complete? Oh, that’s right. It’s shoved underneath your file folders, this morning’s remnants of breakfast and has a coffee stain ring on it. Dig it out, and look at it. What’s on your list? Do you have a trip of a lifetime? Want to write the next Great American Novel? Or do you just want a break from all of the clutter of everyday work and personal life? Self-care is essential, whether that means you take a nice, long bubble bath and read your latest purchased book or spend quality time having a nice conversation with a long-lost friend on a Saturday morning. Do what relaxes you, and pepper those experiences throughout the day. Look, I know as much as the next PR pro that sometimes work intervenes. You’re reading the blog post of someone who has to make a conscious effort to stop to eat while working. (Doesn’t coffee count?) Still, take a five-minute breather to meditate or plan for when you do get some free time. I used to be like, “I want to relax and watch ‘The Empire Strikes Back.’ I want to make a quilt. I want to actually finish all of the Game of Thrones books.” Then, do it! Your work will thank you for the rest and inspiration, too.

...Oh, and coffee. You’ll still need a lot of that, regardless of what you do in your career.

Copyright © MMXVIII Hourglass Omnimedia, LLC

Kaylin R. Staten is an award-winning public relations practitioner and writer. She owns Hourglass Omnimedia, a consulting company based in Huntington, WV. 

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