3 Key PR Disciplines Needed to Climb the Company Ladder


Social media has quickly moved to the top of the PR food chain. Sure, communicators have to know their way around social platforms and what distinguishes one social channel from another. But if PR pros want to advance within their organizations—and land bigger salaries—they should reconsider some of the profession’s more traditional skillsets.

Indeed, mastering traditional disciplines such as written communications and media relations remain the top two ways to advance in PR, according to PR News’ 2014 Salary Survey.

The study was fielded for approximately six weeks, ending December 2013. There were a total of 1,051 respondents, representing a wide variety of industries and PR disciplines. Job titles ranged from president-CEO to account executive and most every PR gig in between.

Digital/social media continues to suck up most of the oxygen in marketing communications but, when it comes to career advancement, they take a backseat to the less sexy aspects of the business: written communications (52%) and media relations (52%).

Content creation (49%), a highfalutin term for what involves a good deal of writing, was also cited as one of the most important PR skills for advancement within a company or organization.

Digital/social media was cited by more than a third of respondents (38%) as one of the most important skills needed to get ahead.

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And despite constant drumbeat for PR measurement—and more accountability demanded from C-level managers—just 18% of the respondents cited measurement as the most important skill in PR.

Even more curious: financial acumen was cited by 11% of the respondents as the most important skill needed for advancement.

For the last several years upper management has been telling PR managers time and again that if they want to advance within their organizations then they have to be a lot more fluent in financial language. But, if the salary survey is any indication, they may not be getting the message.

Learn more about what communicators are earning by ordering a copy of PR News' 2014 Salary Survey and Benefits Report, Vol. 4.    

Follow Matthew Schwartz on Twitter: @mpsjourno1




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About Matthew Schwartz

Group Editor, PR News: Matthew Schwartz is group editor of PR News, the leading source of trends, how-to content and best practices for PR professionals. Matthew leads the editorial strategy for PR News’ premium content products—including its weekly newsletter—and for its digital presence. Matthew was editor of PR News from 2003-2005. Prior to returning to PR News, Matthew was a reporter for Crain’s BtoB and Media Business magazines, where he covered business marketers and media companies. He was also editor of BMA Buzz, a biweekly email newsletter covering B2B marketing, advertising and social media, and contributing writer to Advertising Age Custom. Matthew has helped to launch blogs on behalf of ZoomInfo and direct marketing agency The Kern Organization. He also spent a few years in cable-news precincts, working as a writer/producer at CNN and Fox News Channel.



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  • Jennifer Adams

    I’m surprised with crisis management and reputation management being so low. But the most surprising is the verbal communication!