Are you like most people I know? Soaking up the last days of summer warmth before the colder, crisper air blows in? Me, I love fall. Don’t get me wrong. I also relish the sun and being outdoors while it lasts. But there’s just something about shifting seasons that makes me think of new beginnings. Maybe because it reminds me of my younger years when a new pair of school shoes, supplies and fall sports practices brought so much excitement. As professionals, we tend to lose sight of our opportunities for “fresh starts.” Similarly, our thirst for learning diminishes after we’ve completed our formal education. But the arrival of fall is the perfect time to explore different avenues, to learn new PR skills and to challenge ourselves to experiment with novel ways of working.
I always said my dream job would be a professional student, but this is (or should be) reality for any successful PR practitioner. After all, how can you skill up if you’re not in touch with emerging trends? In fact, continuous learning isn’t just beneficial; it’s critical to your career. According to WEF, 35 percent of the skills employees need to do their jobs, regardless of industry, will have changed by 2020.Continuous learning isn't just beneficial; it’s critical to your career.Click To Tweet
Channel Your Inner Student and Build New PR Skills
Aside from having a constant pulse of breaking news, PR professionals can quench their thirst for knowledge by exploring conferences, pursuing memberships with professional development groups and societies, and by developing relationships with colleagues who have different, yet applicable skill sets.
Attend a Conference
I prefer to learn in person; always have and hope I always will. I like having face-to-face interactions with my professors. It holds me accountable for my participation and my progress. It’s for these same reasons that conferences are a main source of professional development. That’s beyond the fact that they’re a significant source of revenue; in 2016 alone, meetings generated $325 billion of direct spending and $845 billion in business sales. For us in PR and marketing, there are an abundance of conferences worth exploring, from Hubspot’s INBOUND to SXSW (South by Southwest) and IABC (Int. Association of Business Communicators).
Join a Professional Association
If you’re in PR, you’re familiar with PRSA, which offers a wellspring of professional development information for practitioners to build new skills. From learning sessions at the regional chapter level to webinars and case studies online, there is no shortage of industry-specific learning opportunities. Networking with those in your field is an added bonus. Also, explore associations specific to your sector of expertise. Specialize in healthcare communications? Or financial services marketing? There are professional organizations for that!
Subscribe to Newsletters
I know, I know: your inbox is already overflowing. Fill it strategically — with smart, carefully curated content from publications or organizations/associations known for distributing valuable tips, insights into trends and timely industry updates. Is Hubspot releasing a new update? Are CMOs doubling down on social media advertising? Will Instagram TV be a game-changer for B2B brands? These are the types of questions that can be answered, or at least probed, in relevant, direct-to-your-inbox content.
I think one of the other reasons I loved school was because of the challenge—it gave me a task to accomplish. As fall approaches, I encourage you to embody your inner student and explore how you can broaden your PR skills. Also, experts say the best students become the best teachers. So, as you absorb new knowledge, and translate intel into insights, consider how you might share your newfound and expanded competencies.