Why it pays to be a geek in PR

While browsing the blogosphere, I came across a blog posted on The New PR, titled “Why it pays to be a geek in PR.” The title alone captured my attention, thus I read on.

In this blog, Ryan Anderson explains why it is crucial to have a thirst for knowledge in the field of PR. He compares PR to a game of chess, pointing out that in order to create an effective strategy, you must know how all the tools work together, just like in order to win a game of chess, it is valuable to know which way the pieces move in relation to each other.

Anderson offers helpful advice for those of us soon to be graduates breaking into the PR scene. He says that our best investment in our future is being a geek, which translates to understanding all the facets of PR and mastering all the skills incorporated in PR, not just being an expert in one area.

As graduation, and inevitably the real world, inches closer, I find this rather simple suggestion incredibly useful. In my past internships, I have interacted with PR professionals whose resume may be stellar, but only in one particular field. I have come across industry leaders who specialize in a particular area of PR and leave the rest to the other experts who excel in different areas. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I┬áthink that having a broader understanding and mastery of all skills in PR rather than just focusing on a specific component and exceeding at it, is much more beneficial to you, your employer and your career.

What is your opinion on this? Do you find it more benefitting in PR to dedicate your expertise to one particular area of the industry, or do you feel that expanding your skillset to all fields of PR is more advantageous?

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6 Responses to Why it pays to be a geek in PR

  1. wackyzachy47 says:

    I feel that while it may make sense in one respect to specialize in a specific area, being a jack-of-all-trades is more beneficial to your client/company that you work for. Because if you are specialized you are only usable during times when your specialty is needed. Other times, your company may say, “why do we pay you again?” So I guess if you are running your own outside PR firm, specialization is good, but if you want to be on the inside for someone/some company then the Swiss army knife approach is definitely the way to go–this is what I want to end up doing I think. Well doing something with politics, so I will need to have a broad general knowledge. But that isn’t to say that I shouldn’t know something that is a little more in depth. Hmmm, this is an interesting topic, as you can see I have talked myself in a couple circles.

  2. marialinda17 says:

    I think it’s important as PR practitioners to be knowledgeable about various aspects of the industry including social media, media, technology, history, blogs, etc. It’s advantageous to know a good deal about each of these things. However, I think specialization is also beneficial and shouldn’t be overlooked. You don’t want to be a mere “jack of all trades, master of none”. Knowing a lot of different skills in PR is important in order to be versatile, but it’s difficult to master every skill. It’s important to also have a specialization, something you’re very experienced in and good at. Then you can show your employer that you can hit it out of the park.

  3. bkranz says:

    I definitely think it’s important for PR practitioners to be skilled in more than one aspect of their field. If not, it’s likely that they will not be able to produce an effective campaign or anything else their client needs. If they aren’t skilled or knowledgeable in certain aspects, they may not even know what a company needs. I do agree that it is crucial to master every skill but have a specialization that sets you aside from the others. This way, you will not only create a great work portfolio, but others will recognize you for your specific skill.

  4. ccharvey says:

    I think that in some cases we have the upper hand over people with 5-10 years in PR. We have creative ideas, many of our classes have exposed us to creative thinking AND it’s still fresh in our minds. Not only that, but we have grown up with the internet. Many of us have been using social media for years while things like blogs and Myspace are new to many professionals.

  5. amyfoley1975 says:

    I think that it is important to broaden your knowledge base in terms of the PR world. I worked in internships that covered several different aspects of PR, not one of them were the same. I think that I am better because of it. My resume will have more than one set of skills on it. I do not, however, think that this necessarily better prepares me to go out and get a job. That depends on what I chose to do with my degree. If I try to go out and get any PR job that I can then yeah my resume will help me do that. If I try to get a job that it is very skill oriented and I did not happen to do an internship that allowed me to focus in on that one particular skill then my resume won’t help me get the job. The job would go to the PR professional that only studied that one skill and did not worry about other skills that I may have learned and mastered. I think you should focus on what you enjoy because it will help you get a job doing something you like.

  6. esimarsk says:

    I agree with Ryan Anderson, that PR is similar to a game of chess in the sense that you must know how all the pieces of the game work together. That is an integral part of being effective in PR. You must know what would be the most effective method for your company’s communication goals, and to know this you must be knowledgeable in all aspects of PR, even if you are not an expert in all aspects. As long as PR practitioners are knowledgeable in all areas, they can each specialize in one area and work together. I think this would be the most effective way to work in PR.

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