Virgil Scudder lists “10 Essentials of a successful PR career”

During the final breakout session I attended on Saturday, Virgil Scudder gave his list of ten essential tips for a successful public relations career. Scudder is the president of Virgil Scudder & Associates, Inc. He is an expert in media training, having counseled executives in 26 countries on five continents since 1977. Scudder started his presentation by letting us know that we were “about to see one of the most primitive PowerPoint presentations [we had] ever seen.”

Apparently, he lost his PowerPoint file and had to create a very last minute presentation on the plane.

Here are Scudder’s essentials for a successful PR career:

  • Polish your writing skills
  • Improve your presentation skills
    • Never use words where an image will work. People remember pictures better than words.
    • Get used to providing lots of examples. “For example,” is your friend.
  • Read, read, read
    • Read news, case studies, classics, biographies and autobiographies.
    • “The best writers are gracious readers.”
  • Professional demeanor
    • Be nice, humble and tactful.
    • One of the qualities most executives say they are looking for when promoting someone is humility.
    • Share the credit where credit is due.
    • Accept the blame when necessary and be willing to apologize.
  • Listening skills
    • Do more listening than talking.
    • Ask the right questions.
    • Seek input.
    • Show interest.
  • Know the profession
    • Study successful campaigns and placements.
    • Ask questions to experienced professionals.
    • Get involved in professional functions, like PRSSA National Conference.
    • Find a mentor.
    • Managing time is critical. I don’t believe in the 16-hour day. It’s unproductive.”
  • Know the media
    • Ask journalists what they want.
    • Be a resource for journalists. Be available when they need you and be able to answer their questions.
  • Know business
    • Read business pages and watch business shows.
    • Invest and follow stock.
    • Be familiar with how business works.
  • Good work habits
    • Some essential work habits are punctuality, reliability and openness.
    • Meet deadlines.
    • Think creatively.
    • Volunteer for things outside of your main responsibilities. People will notice.
  • Network
    • Utilize professional organizations such as PRSSA.
    • Get to know other professionals in-house.
    • Involve yourself in interest groups like alumni associations.
    • “People want to deal with other people.” Use your network to be more personable in your business.

After going through his list of essentials, Scudder left us with a few other tips:

  • “Work hard, be ethical and do the right things.”
  • “No comment says, ‘I’m guilty of anything you want to think I’m guilty of.’”
  • “Your number one job is counselor to your boss.”
  • “Being unprepared is a nervousness that is not necessary.”

Scudder presented some very valuable information and I will definitely keep these tips in mind throughout my career. Do you have any other tips that he missed?

This post is the fourth in a series from the 2012 PRSSA National Conference. Be sure to read my previous post about social media and the 2012 election.

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