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Spotting and closing your team’s skills gaps

Whether your PR team is in-house or part of an agency, you thrive on a range of specialist and generalist skills that enable you to achieve your goals. 

Whilst core skills such as communication, organisation and IT remain key, skills gaps are emerging from the constantly evolving digital landscape.  

In addition to traditional PR skills training, it’s worth identifying any digital skills gaps in your team, which may also highlight a need for retraining more experienced team members. 

Training vs development 

It’s firstly worth understanding the difference between training and development. Training relates to skills gaps which are often technical and ‘quick fixes’, such as polishing your presentation skills or managing social media accounts, whereas development relates more to personal attributes, such as commercial awareness and emotional intelligence. 

Digital skills in demand 

 The latest PRCA research revealed that in-house PR professionals think they need more education in social influencer outreach, social network strategy and monitoring and listening to customers. Meanwhile, agencies are seeking more education in augmented reality / virtual reality, chatbots and SEO. 

With the infancy of new technologies such as AI, and influencer marketing increasing in importance as the industry has to demonstrate ROI more than ever before, the skills and development needs in your team are changing. It’s not ‘one-size-fits all’ and it’s not ‘train them once and be done’, it’s a case of consulting with your team on an ongoing basis to identify their changing needs, and agreeing and actioning plans to address them in the most appropriate way, whether that be traditional classroom training, mentoring, job shadowing or online tools. 

How to spot skills and development gaps 

A good place to start is to encourage your employees to ask for 360 feedback from their peers, direct reports and manager on what key skills they think they could improve upon. Allow your leaders to take time out to reflect on where they are going and how they’re getting there.  

Next, sit down with your team members and allow them to self reflect as honestly as possible on their weaknesses. Help them evaluate how important these are to success, and help them find strategies and tactics to improve on them if necessary. 

Sometimes progress can be stalled due to personality traits rather than abilities. For example, a highly proficient PR professional that consistently achieves fantastic results may simply not display leadership qualities to take them to the next level in their career, should they wish to. You can use psychometric profiling tools to measure an individual’s personality in different situations, which can help you and the individual understand their behaviour in order to take steps to support their development accordingly.  

Align the business’ and individual’s goals 

Working with your team members to identify their development pathways and training needs can help with morale and retention, but more crucially it ensures they stay up to speed with the industry’s constant changes and enables them to do their job better, which ultimately can only be good for your business’ bottom line.  

With all that in mind, establishing where your team members want to take their careers, and aligning their training and development plans with their goals (as well as those of your business), is key to a happy and successful two-way relationship between employer and employee. It doesn’t do your employer brand any harm either! 

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