Is Empathy a Crucial Skill for PR Professionals?

In this day and age when there is such a huge competition between brands and businesses, efficient and effective marketing and public relations (PR), using the latest tools, methods and technologies available to them, are very important to secure a company’s survival. This is why a lot of companies tend to partner with an experienced and reputed marketing or public relations agency in Sri Lanka, and certainly elsewhere in the world as well.

Public relations for business, or even an individual, is the process of deliberately managing and guiding the public’s perception of a business or brand, to improve its reputation as well as to increase the brand’s visibility, brand awareness and leads. According to PR companies in Sri Lanka, there are many skills that are important for a PR professional, such as:

  • Empathy.
  • Data sense capabilities.
  • Technical skills.
  • Data storytelling skills.
  • Emotional intelligence.
  • A mindset that is open to change.
  • Being adaptive.
  • Curiosity.
  • Agility.
  • Research skills.
  • Being a good listener.
  • Writing skills.
  • Sales skills.
  • Customer experience skills.

When it comes to professionals in public relations in Sri Lanka and elsewhere however, many believe that one of the most important of these skills is empathy. PR is all about effective and timely communication, and when it comes to communication, empathy plays a vital role in it. Many companies carry out Corporate Social Responsibility projects like helping their local communities, assisting with the environment etc, to show the public that they feel for the needs and wants of society and the general public. This should also be the case when they communicate with customers and their audiences regarding their business and their products, and it will be evident in the manner in which companies handle crisis situations and negative publicity, or even in the way they handle individual issues brought forward by their customers. 

In these current times, genuine concern and care and making a connection with your customer and target audience is vital if a business wants to succeed, which is why empathy is such a crucial skill for marketers and PR professionals. When they have empathy, they can create better and more efficient campaigns for their clients and partners and the businesses that hire them.

Many PR companies in Sri Lanka and around the world believe that there are several benefits that a business can gain through empathetic public relation activities. Such benefits include:

  • Improved customer loyalty – When a company is perceived as being caring and concerned, through the efforts of an empathetic PR professional, customers will have more respect for them and this will create greater trust in the brand and business and hence loyalty. How many times have we stuck with a brand because we think that they care for our needs and to resolving our issues? 
  • Improves teamwork – When a business is empathetic towards their customers, their employees and other stakeholders, it creates better teamwork and greater innovation, and when happy people talk about and praise a product or brand, others listen, and follow them.
  • Helps with PR pitching – When a PR professional identifies with the viewpoint of a journalist or other media professional, they tend to feel that they are understood and are more likely to have a better relationship with the PR professional. This is advantageous when they are pitching to them to publish PR related articles etc about their clients.

A crucial matter when it comes to empathy is not to confuse it with sympathy. Empathy is so much more, and rather than feeling sorry for the other party, empathy tends to allow PR professionals to see the viewpoint of others, whether it be a business’ customers, the media or anyone else. In effect it is ‘walking in their shoes’, and this allows them to create content that meets with their target audience’s specific needs, and to create a content strategy that suits their audience. In order to fully understand an audience though, extensive research needs to be done by the PR agency or professional.

Effective PR communication, as we said before, is vital for the growth and success of any business or brand, and to achieve this the PR professionals they partner with should have the right skills, techniques, know-how and experience, together with the right contacts in the right places. More than anything, if the public relations agency in Sri Lanka that you are partnering with is not able to understand your customers’ needs, wants and mindset, then they will not be able to create effective PR strategies for you.

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