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29 not-very-technical things that every PR person should know

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Unashamedly inspired by 25 Not Very Technical Things Journalists Should Know, I thought about the not very technical things that PROs should know. When I first started thinking about this piece, it was more to do with the gaining momentum of digital techniques, but given a recent PR Week article citing a report that claimed PR agencies cut cut staff by 40 per cent it took on a new tone as recommendations for PR people to include in their personal career survival strategies.

If you don’t know these things, acquire the knowledge by reading around; if you are agency-side and no one in your business know these things, start looking for another job – because you will need one soon.

In this time of financial constraints your clients will look for you to maximise the impact of campaigns with little or no additional cost to them. In order to do this, you need to embrace the following skills.

  1. How to manage your email inbox: this article from The Times is a good place to start
  2. How to touch type – if you can’t manage your email box or have to do hunt-and-peck typing how are you going to find the time to think about working smarter?
  3. How to create a link. Look at the source code of this blog post or Google it if you don’t know how.
  4. How to embed photos and videos
  5. How to buy a domain name
  6. How to set up a flickr account
  7. How to buy an ad on Google AdWords
  8. How to use an RSS reader
  9. How to set up Google Alerts
  10. How to do some advanced searches such as phrase matches, Boolean search terms, and site-specific searches
  11. How to conduct research efficiently and effectively using online tools
  12. How to understand the nature of a community and assess a blogs authority
  13. How Wikipedia works and how to get involved in the process for having a post changed
  14. Understand the nature of conversations and their appropriateness for your client
  15. How to upload photos and video to the web
  16. Understand the basics of how to record audio
  17. How to take interesting photos and the basic operation of a digital SLR
  18. Understand the basics of shooting video
  19. Understand the simple data of web analytics tools
  20. How to use social networks, beyond Facebook and LinkedIn
  21. How to use Twitter
  22. Understand the basics of community management.
  23. How to use free online survey tools
  24. How to use tags
  25. How to use social bookmarking tools and have a collection of useful and interesting resources
  26. How to share a presentation online
  27. How to use FTP software to move large files about (I can’t believe that PR people often don’t know this, especially when many picture desks have made use of FTP servers for a good while)
  28. How to use online calendar services
  29. How to use event registration management systems

This list is a work-in-progress, I will tag Jonathan Hopkins, Becky McMichael, Jonny Rosemont and Stephen Davies to see if they have any additional pearls of wisdom to share with you. Also  feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments box.

Posts in this series

29 things: the basics of how to record audio

29 things: how Wikipedia works and how to get involved in the process of having a post changed

29 things: how to tweet

29 Things: Understand the nature of conversations and their appropriateness for your client

29 things: how to use Google for fun and profit

29 things: how to use an RSS reader

29 things: how to organise a PR account

29 things: how to embed pictures and video

29 things: how to create a link

29 things: how to touch-type

29 things: how to manage your communications platform

29 things for PR people

This was the post that started it all: 29 not-very-technical things that every PR person should know

22 replies on “29 not-very-technical things that every PR person should know”

Just blogged this Ged – – love the post and here’s a few more from me:

30. How to source, use and reference photos for presentations, documents, blog posts using flickr and other image sites

31. How to set up a PR community online using Huddle or similar

32. How to edit a short video clip

33. What dpi a publication requires (cringe if I see people send over crappy little images)

34. How to pdf a document (using primopdf or other)

35. How not to rely on social networking as the only tool to build their contact book #reallifeandallthat

36. How to set up a blog

37. How to write for the web

38. How to set up their Blackberry/phone with useful mobile apps

39. How to take a screen grab

40. How to manage a quality online filing system so stuff doesn’t go wrong/get lost/piss clients off

Blimey. Nice list. Suffering from meme non-response guilt (MNRG) over here. Looks like Becky has covered a lot of extra stuff, but if I get a mo I’ll try and add to it.

Hey Ged, Becky tagged me and I’ve just put my list up. It’s an excellent meme! Here are mine…

42. How to alter basic HTML and an understanding of CSS (and the only reason that I’ve mentioned this is because I recently learnt bits)
43. How to use social networking to network with others in your industry as well as potential clients
44. An understanding of the use of music social networks such as Favtape and for actually client use rather than time wasting and procrastination
45. How to use Microsoft Office applications effectively (See Stuart’s post on this)
46. How to synchronise contacts, calendars and emails across desktop, laptop, iPod and phone – and probably also a service like DropBox
47. How to concisely explain social media to non-savvy clients
48. How to make good coffee (coffee, then milk, then sugar, stir, then hot water)
49. How to rank blogs using a cross section of tools
50. An understanding of online word of mouth and the positive and negative potential
51. How to set-up, promote and maintain a wiki


Would definitely add Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) basics, understanding clients’ search keywords and phrases – possibly moving from not very technical to ‘a bit more tehnical’…..but essential if PR is to compete against Search marketers as online pr/social media budgets become more competitive in 2009.

I would add:

30. Be able to monitor when someone has linked to your blog.

Why? Because I never saw this post or your link and have just found it through a referral from another blog. Having checked the publish date though I was in Bucharest on holiday at the time and remember specifically making a pact with myself to stay off the grid.


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