The 2017 IPR and PRSA Report: KSAs and Characteristics of Entry-Level PR Professionals

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Download Press Release: Entry-Level PR Employees Show Range of Expertise and Confidence in Essential Skills, Grit and Emotional Intelligence

Executive Summary
The Institute for Public Relations and the Public Relations Society of America conducted a study of 386 entry-level professionals in public relations to better understand their level of knowledge, skills, and abilities, as well as their attitudes toward professional development opportunities. The report explores two areas that have received much attention in business and psychological literature but have rarely been applied to public relations: emotional intelligence and grit.

Findings Include:

  • Entry-level professionals identified having advanced levels of knowledge in multiple areas of writing.
    Entry-level professionals rated themselves high in terms of writing ability, critical thinking, and public speaking. This contradicts some of the research that finds professionals rate the writing skills of entry-level professionals as low (see Appendix). On the other hand, entry-level professionals rated research capabilities such as research instrument design and environmental scanning as low. Surprisingly, results relating to skills and abilities of social media platforms for business use were mixed; some touted an advanced level of knowledge while others rated their skills as low.
  • Entry-level professionals need to improve their business skills and ability to apply theories.
    Entry-level professionals need to be able to apply business acumen, including financial literacy, to their everyday job responsibilities. Professionals should also be seeped in theories to help understand attitudes and what drives behavior. On the other hand, entry-level professionals scored themselves high in terms of action-oriented skills and abilities, including creating content and managing projects/events.
  • Professional development support improves retention.
    More than three-quarters of respondents said their employer’s funding (or lack of it) is a significant factor in their decision to stay at their organizations over the next year. Entry-level professionals are willing to learn new skills if employer pays. Nearly all respondents said they are willing to learn new skills if their employers paid for all or part of their training. The most cited training sources included graduate school, online education courses, YouTube, and volunteer work.
  • Female entry-level professionals rated themselves higher than men on their level of grit.
    Women rated themselves grittier than men, meaning they rated themselves higher on their ability to work strenuously toward challenges despite failure, adversity, and lack of progress. Overall, both male and female entry-level professionals rated themselves lower compared to other studies.
  • Of the factors relating to emotional intelligence, entry-level professionals rated themselves lowest in “emotionality.” “Emotionality”, or the ability to perceive emotion and express emotions, was the weakest factor that entry-level professionals rated themselves on in terms of emotional intelligence. Individuals with lower scores on this factor find it difficult to recognize their internal emotional states and to express their feelings to others.

Report:

Infographic:

Posted in [Research Library], IPR Signature Studies.

3 Comments

  1. As a public relations student who is about to be an entry-level professional, this study is highly interesting to me. I’ve often heard PR professionals express they wish they had a background in the business side of PR when they entered the field, and this study reinforced the value of taking a few business or finance courses. Also, I found it surprising that many of the lowest ranked areas of knowledge were digital; we consistently hear that employers look to their younger employees for social media and digital literacy. From the employer side, entry-level professionals seem eager to invest in themselves, especially with the help of their employers. – Grace Turner, Platform Magazine Writer/Editor

  2. As a public relations student who is about to be an entry-level professional, this study is highly interesting to me. I’ve often heard PR professionals express they wish they had a background in the business side of PR when they entered the field, and this study reinforced the value of taking a few business or finance courses. Also, I found it surprising that many of the lowest ranked areas of knowledge were digital; we consistently hear that employers look to their younger employees for social media and digital literacy. From the employer side, entry-level professionals seem eager to invest in themselves, especially with the help of their employers.

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