business needs rich media pr talent

manship prssa class of 2010

Mark Ragan’s PR Daily post by Arik Hanson highlights perfectly the growing demand for well rounded PR practitioners in the Twin Cities, a need that’s extendable throughout the country.

In it, Mr. Hanson cites employers scrambling for capable content providers or, as he phrases it, media producers. To me that translates into photojournalists, storytellers, videographers and to a lesser extent verbal audio specialists. Add to that list basic graphic design awareness.

facebook’s not enough to make me look

When I visited LSU’s Manship School of Communications (above) as a guest portfolio reviewer for the PRSSA Class of 2010, I was surprised that the current generation – fluent in texting, IM and facebook – was by and large incapable of producing a rich media story on their own.

I was there to render an opinion based on off-the-shelf Word resumes featuring various interpretations of bold, italic, indented and colored text, handsomely rendered in that well known font, sans excitement. Which isn’t to say there wasn’t talent: these young adults were all bright, fresh and raring to get started, but for reasons not clear the multi-media component of modern, web-based communications seemed to have been overlooked.

I’m no expert at the clinical eval of résumés. Leave that to soulless HR and their dubious software scans. I do know what makes me look, what gets me engaged, what lights the fire of curiousity. Why should I like you? Because you make me laugh, smile, cringe, twitch. Great writers have this talent – it’s called bestseller. The rest of us need all the props we can stuff in a backpack.

At my table, instead of talking about individual CVs, I  teased out a line of thought that began with their obvious writing capabilities and paired that knowledge with a contemporary playlist of added graphics, media and design into a universally readable Acrobat format that could communicate individualism, adaptability and imagination.

Whether they know it or not, today’s employers can best benefit by seeking out talent trained in fact gathering and skilled in resource based story telling. Think of it as a leveraged ROI of scaleable assets, able to react quickly (required) when the job demands analysis, fact gathering, event recording, documentation, concept, editing, producing and deployment across multiple channels. Right now.

start with bare bones and acrobat(ics)

At a time when photography, video, sound and publishing have never been more accessible, it’s a lead-pipe cinch that the crop of current and future  PR practitioners stands most to benefit from an understanding of traditional mass com techniques. For me, the heart of successful exploitation revolves around Adobe’s ubiqutous Acrobat, which has grown over the years to become an extremely sophisticated application capable of a wide range of print and web tasks.

So whether it’s understanding the basics of photographic composition, the SEO behind ALT text, keyword imbeds in JPGs, or the advantages of a search optimized Acrobat document, Gen Digital stands to benefit hugely from peeking inside the fascinating bag of tricks contained in contemporary media apps. And because a smart phone is considered universal hardware, all that’s lacking is the software ability to extract all that delicious cloud content. Here are a few picks (ranked) that can really help pr pros leverage conventional digital assets.

its about audience engagement

Adobe has an affordable software purchasing program for students, and with the introduction of CS5.5, applications are now available as monthly subscriptions.

  1. Bare Bones Text Wrangeler (free – the best little writing instrument around – and loves HTML)
  2. Adobe Acrobat X ($$$ incredible potential)
  3. Creative Suite – Designer ($$$$ steep curve)
  4. Imaging/Illustration – Photoshop/Illustrator ($$$ steep curve, both versatile)
  5. Page layout – InDesign ($$$ steep curve)
  6.  MS Word – included but keep in mind Word is never used for professional design. See #1