Posted At: April 4, 2012 2:00 PM
by Margaret Bishop
In a recent article featured by PR Daily, Beth Monaghan highlighted two essential traits that PR practitioners need to be successful: confidence and empathy. After reading the article, I debated on what qualities I possessed that have served me most throughout my PR internship and job experiences. Not surprisingly, there were two that really stuck out: confidence and empathy.
Confidence could be argued as the most critical quality in a PR professional. In order to be successful in representing your client, you must be dauntless in the mission and purpose of your client. This confidence cannot be fabricated — sincerity is a must.
Prosperous PR practitioners have shown us that taking risks is not only a necessary action, but an art form. Being confident in risk-taking can be the difference in a tremendous breakthrough or an epic fail. PR professionals have to know which risks are worth taking and which risks may take you.
When speaking on behalf of your client or employer, confidence is key. Distinguished public speakers know that being able to speak well and confidently is essential.
Empathy is a little more complex, but equally as imperative. Empathy has been present in every interview, media call and networking event I have participated in. Empathy is described as being able to relate to another’s feelings, experiences, beliefs, etc. — which could be considered similar to creating rapport.
As PR professionals, we are already aware of the significance of creating rapport with potential employers, clients and media contacts. Therefore, creating shared empathy with these individuals is an absolute must.
Though the importance of empathy is obvious, remember a crucial point: there is a huge difference between empathy and sympathy. You can be understanding without going overboard.
When sympathy takes over, your judgment may be hindered and cause you to do something you may not normally do — such as go over budget or make an unethical decision. Be sure to use your aforementioned confidence and stay on the correct path.
Though the best PR professionals have a plethora of strong qualities, these two are clearly distinct. Sharpening your confidence and empathy skills can help you to be a PR practitioner who truly shines.