As the PR Head of your Organization, you have to learn to be a master juggler, adept at handling a large assemblage of roles. You must be skilled at walking the tight rope between all the relevant publics through which you must deftly manoeuvre your brand message. You must deliver the optimal performance on each of the multitudinous functions that are the subsets of your larger responsibility.
You have to be a fine and respected Spokesperson for your Brand and know how to handle a crisis situation with utmost attention and finesse. The role of a PR professional is cross-dimensional, multifarious and with new challenges springing up all in a day’s work.
In Part 1 of this theme, we looked at fifteen of the essential skills that you must equip yourself with in order to be a top-notch PR player. Let us look at the remaining significant traits in the second Part -
1. Do not be a fish in the pond, be a whale in an ocean.
Grow your horizon beyond the local and national and benchmark your work and yourself internationally. Better still, be Glocal with local sensibilities and a global perspective.
2. Develop healthy and productive relationships.
Develop sound and meaningful relationships with a wide array of publics – ranging from Government representatives, diplomats, artists and performers to Travel & Tourism industry folk, eminent community people and hotel guests, the last being the most important.
Nurture an outstanding rapport with your colleagues – a lot of them end up being your media talent and ably assist you in excellent Reputation Management and in the successful representation of the Brand Identity.
3. Stay keen, curious, excited and hungry for knowledge and information.
A piqued interest in anything new or offbeat or out of the ordinary makes you a fascinating story-teller and a dynamic PR professional who is always loaded with rich nuggets to share.
It could be the exquisite lobby flower arrangement, the uniquely artisanal products at the Spa, the enchanting towel origami in the rooms, the bespoke wine bottled specially for the hotel, range of patisserie inimitably offered by your Pastry Shop, the Christmas decorations that set you apart, the distinctive and latest fleet of limousines – the options are endless and exciting.
4. You must develop a keen inclination towards Travel.
It offers education like no other and is one of finest teachers of all. It makes you a global professional who can fit into international and multicultural work milieu with ease.
It exposes you to the fascinating cultures and people from around the world. You get to see and learn firsthand a lot of practices that your international hotel adheres to. Finally, Travel turns you into an interesting person and a great conversationalist.
5. Read up on issues of General importance.
You should have a cultivated interest in a wide range of topics and must make a habit of reading up on them. One of my favourite bosses, and the second mentor in my corporate career, used to nudge us to read extensively. He himself would begin his day by giving a long glance to the finance and business sections of the morning papers and then proceed to read hospitality newsletters as and when his time would permit.
One morning, he told us, he had kept busy reading up on the automobile industry and the latest developments in that sector. At lunch, that afternoon, with the Managing Director of an auto major, he managed to build a good connection by showing up as an interested, informed and intelligent hotelier who was on the same page as the important guest and could identify with the guest’s focus and demands with ease.
6. The business of Entertaining.
Half of your work time will be spent in entertaining. Half of the other half will go in working closely with the F&B department. Hence, it will make a lot of sense to develop a strong affinity for food as a stream of work along with the appreciation of good food and wine.
This will help you hold your own at Menu launches and Wine dinners, be a knowledgeable conduit between the F&B colleagues and the media, not look like a greenhorn or a misfit and bring high value to those PR, Sales and Brand management strategies that revolve around food and beverage.
7. You must hone your skill in Public Speaking.
As a PR representative of your Company, there will be zillion platforms where you will have to wield the mike and come out looking like a Pro.
From internal meetings and PR presentations to charity balls, community events and webinars; there will be so many occasions for you to get on the podium and speak, that it will do you well to practice public speaking on a regular basis.
8. Develop an expertise in Event Management.
As a Hotel PR person, this chunk of responsibility falls into your lap. The fun and exciting part is that you get to handle a big bag of events ranging from fashion shows, art exhibitions, supper theatre to piano concerts, symphony orchestra and sporting tournaments.
9. Work and web well with the Significant Others at Work.
You must work with the General Manager’s Office and the HR Department to develop a strong strategy based on Corporate Social Responsibility.
Companies have been known to endorse Government-led projects in earmarked villages, sponsor environment-focussed activities, offer a scholarship to children with special needs, support a community developed around sustainability and green belt model.
There is a lot you can do, as payback to the Society and you must partake of this privilege. After all, a Company’s real worth, value and success is truly measured by what it contributes to the Society in which it thrives.
10. Crisis Management.
The role of a hotel PR is extremely pertinent and influential for the eclectic range of crises you are called to handle.
Crisis Handling and Issues Management are the two extremely important areas of responsibility in your strategic role.
At hotels it could range from a simple bad review of a food festival to the dramatic unnatural death on the premises; from the repercussions of a bad speech made by the head honcho to a run-in with the law on account of a questionable activity of a suspicious guest. The gamut is wide and could come with no precedent.
Therefore, you must really learn the ropes of handling different kinds of crises, with tutored calm and maturity.
11. Communicating with Internal Publics.
Pay a lot of heed to Internal communications because the internal publics are an immensely significant set of publics.
Make sure that you are as focussed on sharing the Company news with the employee base as you are with the media.
Work hand in glove with HR on employee events and workshops. Step out and provide media training to an extended set of people, thereby developing an army of skillful and well-versed brand ambassadors.
12. Diversity in Daily Work.
With such diversity in your daily duties and a rich mixed plate of responsibilities, there are a set of personal qualities and attributes that will help you get head and stay on top of your game.
Some of the important ones are - attention to detail, promptness in responses, capacity to handle stress, ability to deliver on short notice, a talent for genuinely liking people and building relationships, being likable yourself and easy to get along with a varied set of people, multi-tasking, keeping calm under pressure and being passionate about what you do.
If you develop each of the above skills/traits, then you will have less to rely on sham, superficiality and spin; all of which that have given PR a bad name.
A truly qualified PR professional brings respect to their own self, their organization and their area of competence; founding their career on a bedrock of sound PR fundamentals, performance best practices and work ethics.
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