Pearls of Wisdom from the 4A’s PR Conference
Strong writing skills, strategic communications acumen, and being a good listener are some of the basic skills needed to be an effective and successful PR practitioner, according to our own Sam DiGennaro, CEO and founder of DiGennaro Communications.
“I was an art undergraduate/English major and had no idea what PR was,” DiGennaro said of her college years. She honed her craft in the communications departments of advertising agencies such as D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles and J. Walter Thompson, which she left in 2006 to start her own firm, which serves advertising, marketing, media and B2B entertainment companies. “The younger folks we’re seeing now studied PR and are excited about getting into this industry.”
DiGennaro offered her thoughts during a panel session, “Tomorrow’s PR Professional: How Agile Will You Have to Be” at the 4A’s PR conference held in New York April 26-27. She and fellows panelists, Barri Rafferty of Ketchum, Judith Harrison of Golin Harris and TR Straub of Heyman Associates agreed that storytelling skills, especially in multimedia, are increasingly in demand.
“You also need to be a news junkie and know how to sniff out the news and slice and dice all the messages,” DiGennaro continued. “[PR] also [includes] the ability to take a deep breath, get your head around how to go forward and make sure the counsel you’re sending to a client is sound and strategic.”
Straub, a recruiter specializing in placing internal communications specialists, said he looks for candidates with a strong business sense—those who understand how their actions drive the bottom line of the companies they work for.
PR Week editor Steve Barrett was the moderator and asked the panelists what business issue keeps them up at night.
“Finding people at the senior levels who understand the business and really want to run a global account,” Rafferty said, adding that leaders need to have an understanding of the global marketing space and be able to keep up with everything. “All of us our competing for the same digital talent. People don’t have enough digital strategy talent.”
DiGennaro said she wants her employees to feel just as important and respected as every client on the agency roster.
“I’m [also] always thinking about what the next step is in a 24-7 world,” she added. “Spot the trends, think two steps ahead, anticipate what’s next. It keeps me up [but everyone thinking about it] will help our industry evolve.”