Skills for PR Professionals

6 Critical Skills for PR Professionals in 2024

Skills for PR Professionals

In the rapidly expanding Indian public relations (PR) industry, success hinges on mastering a diverse skill set tailored to its unique challenges. Effective communication, cultural sensitivity, and relationship-building are paramount in navigating India’s dynamic socio-economic landscape.

PR professionals need diverse skills beyond traditional public relations practices to excel in today’s fast-paced and dynamic communication landscape.

1. Communication Skills

It is important for a PR person to be a good communicator. A PR professional needs to be a confident speaker and an excellent listener. Besides, a knack for explaining complex concepts also comes in handy.

A PR professional has to be sensitive to subtle nuances in language and culture because the job will involve communicating with a range of people across different mediums (social media, in person, on the telephone, and in writing) across different territories. He needs to appreciate other people’s priorities and points of view.

2. Research Skills

A PR person needs to be a good researcher to communicate accurately and authoritatively on a subject. A PR person has to keep track of current affairs and fast-paced markets, enjoy learning about evolving dynamics, and be knowledgeable about their clients and their needs.

3. Writing Skills

Press Release

A PR professional is expected to write engaging content for clients, whether a guest article in a magazine, a case study, or a press release. Clear and engaging content shapes a brand’s image and reputation.

Attention to detail is also required, which is handy when writing and proofreading other people’s work.

4. Liaison Skills

public diplomacy

Another important skill for PR professionals is relationship-building. Building and maintaining positive relationships with the media, influencers, clients, and other key stakeholders is vital for successful PR campaigns.

PR professionals are used to being the liaisons to manage and facilitate communication, whether it’s with the media, community groups, employees, analysts, or investors. Their skills are tested on several platforms, from building a cross-functional team to working on social strategy and policies to communicating with other employees about internal collaborative platforms.

The aim is to bring various groups of employees together. Sometimes, it is beyond the marketing communications department, including other company areas, including sales, IT, legal, HR, R&D, etc., to share, collaborate, and innovate.

5. Creativity

A career in PR offers countless opportunities to be creative, not only in writing but also in coming up with new ways to promote businesses and approach new clients. PR constantly calls for fresh ideas and lateral thinking, so having a creative bent of mind can be a crucial skill for career success.

6. Techno Savvy 

Digital PR

Social media enables public relations professionals to be content publishers and to participate in collaborative platforms. It is crucial for PR practitioners to be perfectly skilled in technology, using platforms, tools, and resources. Relying on digital creatives and IT to fulfill tasks, working in content management systems (CMS), creating videos and distributing them, and using collaborative platforms make PR work more productive and efficient.

Understanding digital marketing tools and analytics can give PR professionals an edge in today’s tech-savvy world. Leveraging data-driven insights can help optimize PR strategies and measure their impact more effectively.

Case Study: Cadbury India’s Product Contamination Crisis

Now, let’s discuss a case study of Cadbury India, where all the above-mentioned PR skills were successfully implemented to resolve a crisis situation.

In October 2003, just a month before the festive season of Diwali, customers in Mumbai reported the discovery of worms in Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolates. Responding promptly, the Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seized chocolate stocks produced at Cadbury’s Pune plant. The contamination caused widespread public outrage and threatened the brand’s reputation.

cadbury crisis

Cadbury initially defended itself by stating that the infestation could not have occurred during the manufacturing process and suggesting that poor storage at retailers might have been the cause of the reported worm cases.

However, the FDA claimed that while worms might have entered the chocolates during storage, the main reason was improper or airtight packaging. Therefore, it could be considered a manufacturing defect due to unhygienic conditions or improper packaging.”

Cadbury typically experiences a 15% sales boost due to festive season demand, but their sales dropped by 30% due to this crisis.

Challenges Faced

Cadbury India encountered several challenges during the crisis, putting its PR team’s skills to the test.

The first and foremost challenge was communicating effectively with consumers, stakeholders, and the media amid the crisis. The PR team needed to reassure consumers about the steps to address the issue while maintaining transparency and credibility. It was particularly challenging owing to the cultural sensitivity and diverse consumer sentiments and concerns across different regions of India.

First and foremost, Cadbury immediately recalled the affected products from the market, demonstrating their commitment to ensuring consumer safety.

cadbury dairy milk

Cadbury launched an education initiative called “Vishwa’s” in October itself. This initiative aimed to educate 190,000 retailers in key states. They also launched an internal investigation in collaboration with independent third-party experts, to identify any potential lapses in quality control.

In addition to the recall and investigation, Cadbury established a dedicated consumer helpline and email contact to address any customer concerns or inquiries. This direct line of communication allowed affected individuals to seek information and assistance.

Then, in January 2004, Cadbury invested around Rs 15 crore to revamp the packaging of “Dairy Milk” by introducing imported machinery. Despite being costlier by 10–15%, the new metallic poly-flow packaging did not lead to a price increase. This truly helped restore the brand’s reputation.

Amitabh Cadbury Ad

Cadbury India’s top management stated, “Although we are addressing a few bars out of the 30 million we sell every month, we believe that as a responsible company, consumers should have complete faith in our products. So, even if it requires significant investment and change, we must not let consumer confidence erode.”

Cadbury issued press releases and media statements to communicate their response to the crisis, including the immediate recall, investigation, and measures being implemented to ensure product safety. These official statements aim to provide accurate information and address media inquiries promptly.

Simultaneously, Cadbury enlisted the support of brand ambassador Amitabh Bachchan for an extensive endorsement.

YouTube player

Cadbury also increased advertising spending for the January–March quarter by more than 15%. The brand’s recovery began in May 2004, and by June, Cadbury claimed that consumer confidence had been restored.

Cadbury’s crisis management approach is an excellent example of effective strategies and best practices in the food industry. By swiftly addressing the crisis, prioritizing consumer safety, and embracing transparency, Cadbury demonstrated their commitment to their customers and their brand integrity.

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