Observations / Public Relations / Quotations

The 10 Essentials for a Successful PR Career

With a title like that, you know a session is bound to be packed. Especially at a conference for PR nerds – this moi, included. This session’s presenter, Virgil Scudder, outlined these ten essentials for succeeding in a PR position:

Writing skills

As Scudder argued, everybody has to write something at some time; professionals must be able to write adequately. In addition, we should edit everything we write. Everything.

Presentation skills

Scudder suggested watching and studying the best presenters and practicing in front of a video camera. While visual examples are important, he also said to avoid using presentations as crutches Finally, use short, direct sentences and common language.

Read, read, read

Scudder advised reading newspapers, professional journals, PRSA case studies and even classic literature and autobiographies.

Professional demeanor

Professionals are humble and tactful, willing to share credit and accept blame.

Listening skills

Scudder stated that we should listen more than we talk; this process shows interest in others and their work. It’s also important to ask the right questions for drawing out information.

Know the profession

Scudder recommended studying successful campaigns and placement as well as asking questions of experienced professionals. Find a mentor and/or get involved in professional organizations and functions.

Know the media

What kinds of stories are of interest to what outlets? Ask journalists what they want, and be a resource for them.

Know business

Read business pages and publications and study shareholding earnings calls. Scudder also recommended investing and following one’s own stock.

Good work habits

Scudder suggested such habits include punctuality, reliability, openness, meeting deadlines, thinking creatively and volunteering.


Networking, as Scudder explained, includes connecting with others in professional organizations and in-house, as well as in alumni associations.

Scudder summarized by saying work hard; be ethical and do the right things. Our number one job is to be a counselor to our bosses.


3 thoughts on “The 10 Essentials for a Successful PR Career

  1. This is all very good information. I like how he put emphasis on not using a presentation as a “crutch”. I think he makes a great point on using direct sentences and common language. I have to agree that people want to know what you’re trying to say without having to jump though the hoops of a presentation to come to the point. Also what he says about communicating with journalist I find to be very true. Recently I did an interview with a PR professional of Water and Wall and he could not stress enough to talk to the journalist and not be afraid to ask questions.

    • Of all of the advice he shared, his advice to talk to journalists about what they’re looking for was most surprising, or at least I hadn’t heard it before. I knew to try and figure that out, but I’d never thought to actually approach journalists and ask them first-hand. I just assumed I was on my own or reliant on research. It’s always nice to know when questions are acceptable and even welcome!

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