Essential Skills – PART 1
Many young people get into the world of Hospitality Public Relations wearing rose-tinted glasses and thinking that it is going to be a joy ride. They think working in a hotel is going to be a one-big never-ending party with hours spent in wining and dining, a fun affair with the most important factor being that you look your pretty/handsome best.
Just yesterday, a well-established Travel and Food Writer in the Subcontinent raised a pertinent virtual dialogue about how she misses good, honest PR of yore. She rued the fact that a lot of people getting into hospitality PR do not come with the right skills and more significantly, with the right mindset. There is more chaff than grain, she lamented, stating that the PR world has become superficial, messy and mediocre with too many untrained cooks spoiling the publicity broth.
So where are we going wrong? Let’s review the characteristics that we should come to be identified with and look at traits that should form an integral part of our personal toolkit; not just in the world of hospitality but in any other industry.
- Know your field well. You are the master of the PR Universe in your Company. Hence, be adept at every rule in the book, current practices, and upcoming trends.
- Know everything about your Hotel there is to know – from Corporate Mission & Vision and Brand Philosophy to the Company bottom line.
- Know about the functioning of each department, from the fancy food & beverage to the gritty housekeeping. You never know where a good story, promotional idea or media talent is lurking to help you get a peg or build a campaign. Besides, you are THE news generator for all the impressive things done by your compatriots in different departments.
- Endeavour to learn whatever there is about your Competition – their outstanding facets, USP, what they do differently from you, their new product/feature launches, where do they fit in your competition analysis. It helps you differentiate your product and add more muscle to your PR efforts. Plus, all the added knowledge arms you to the teeth to handle your portfolio like a virtuoso.
- Stay on top of all your visibility platforms – from slide presentations on in-house television, media packs, FAM backgrounders to mobile or tablet interfaces and the Company website. Any dead wood floating around is bad news and shows you, the most, in a very poor light.
- Do not make the mistake of treating media merely as a vehicle that carries forward your communication capsules. You wouldn’t be farther from the reality if you thought and acted thus.
- Media is an ally; in fact, your strongest that helps people measure your worth as a PR practitioner and gets you a high-performance rating on your appraisal. This is true. Many organizations still think that the single most important role of a PR person is to get visibility in the media. Often, a PR Agency’s work on your Company account is rated on the basis of the extent of coverage it gets.
- Like a good friend, media must be treated with respect, trust, and genuine liking; with sincere efforts made to meet the common goals. You must develop good information for them, share exciting newsworthy items with ample thought about which media likes what, when you must embargo your news piece and when you must adhere to the exclusivity demands.
You must pay heed to how best you balance your rapport with different representatives and media houses. You must, non-negotiably, react to the media requests in a timely fashion, get out of your comfort zone to develop real relationships and deliver in the best way possible nine times out of ten.
You must also learn to withhold the virtues and brand guidelines of your Company in a happy, result-oriented, productive confluence with what the media seeks without having to bow down to unrealistic pressure.
Nobody said it would be easy. It was never meant to be, nevertheless, efforts made to seal a mutually beneficial pact and a mutually respecting relationship with the media is easily your biggest feat.
- Develop a fondness for words and a skill for writing – from professional to flowery and rigorously formal to rhetorical content. More times than not, you are the in-house Content Writer for your hotel for a variety of things ranging from a guest letter and newsletter text to due diligence report or brochure copy.
- Know a thing or two about database management. As a PR person, there will be a wide spectrum of lists that you will handle. It will come in handy if you know exactly how to build, store and mine the data. Also, at all costs, keep the data dynamic devoid of any dreg and debris.
- Stoke your creative side. As the PR expert you are the Chief-in-charge or via media or the bridging factor for all the demiurgic initiatives, be it advertising, stock photography, website, and marketing collateral, press kit presentations, food & beverage and general events conceptualization.
- Cultivate the left side of your brain too and develop an affinity for figures. It pays to understand the Company balance sheet, understand fiscal issues, make balanced and pragmatic marketing & PR budgets and work towards profit protection.
- Foster a penchant for Printing techniques and design basics. I enjoy getting to learn the various stages of printing and diving into the magnificent world of fonts and designs. I get a sense of immense satisfaction from creating beautiful collateral. In any case, whether you like it or not; mastering this territory will help you deliver great results as this line of activity falls within your purview.
- Catch up with the evolving times and get abreast of the latest trends in marketing and PR – be it digital marketing, social media deluge, new presentation techniques using most modern gadgetry, photo and file share internet tools and sundry technological innovations in the field of PR and its allied services.
- You must attempt to become proficient in a wide range of Computer related skills from Word to Excel, PowerPoint, Photoshop, CorelDraw; whatever assists you in becoming an exceptional worker. From Adobe to Video conferencing with a picturesque stop-over at Picasa or Google Images, you must endeavour to learn as many IT tools and techniques as you can.
In the second part of this piece, we will talk about more qualities that will help you stand apart from the commoners and transport you into the top 1 % of the exceptionally qualified Royalty.