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Dec 05, 2023 Bethany Smith

Specialist or generalist?

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘a jack of all trades’ and the negative connotations that are often associated with it: to have many skills but be a master of none of them.

But is that actually the case? Whilst there is much debate on the exact origin of the phrase, it’s originally believed to be a compliment, with the idea that a master of their craft took the time to study their trade and learn how to integrate the skills and knowledge into their discipline.

What can we apply as PR professionals in a field that already requires us to have an in-depth understanding of the sectors we represent

Should we be striving to be experts in our client's industries? No, not necessarily.

Our specialism as PR professionals is communication; to be a Jack of our trade, we need to learn from others in our field to find new ways to engage and motivate our client's audiences. The best way to achieve this? Variation in your team.

Having your team come from various sectors and backgrounds means they carry a mix of insight and experience with them. They have all faced challenges and successes unique to the industries they came from and will be able to share that knowledge with the rest of the team. When problems occur that difference in experience can be a game changer when finding solutions.

This variation of experience also means more inspiration points. Creativity is what drives the PR industry, and to be able to tell meaningful stories is the core of what we do; like any other art form, you can only imagine what you know. Being able to bounce ideas with our peers is a valuable part of idea generation. The difference in experience and interests is how we stay inspired because we are not being met with variations of our own words.

Most importantly, your clients' businesses are built by Jacks - they are the masters of their own craft and are looking to you and your experience to fill a gap they can’t. They need you to understand them and their communication needs more than how they do their job.

While it may feel like generalising, expanding out is a necessary part of growing and becoming a specialist in PR. Take every opportunity to expand your and your agency's horizons and you’ll soon become a master of the craft.

Published by Bethany Smith December 5, 2023