The Personality Traits of Top Digital PR Leaders

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So, you want to work in digital PR, content marketing, or link building, and you’re looking for an edge over the competition. 

When it comes to improving skills or growing professionally, a lot of us in the industry look up to marketing superstars and emulate what they’re doing. Most people agree that if you want to improve your success in a given field, following industry thought leaders and learning from them is good practice and helps us to understand what makes them successful.

All types of personalities can earn success in their chosen field. In fact, having a lot of diversity in personalities and experience can greatly enhance your team. However, with IBM Watson Personality Insights, we were able to narrow down the most common traits of the top influencers in digital PR and link building. 

Understanding IBM Watson Personality Insights Results

IBM Watson, most famously known for winning “Jeopardy!” in 2011, has many more capabilities than just winning trivia. Its Personality Insights API reveals interesting insights about people. 

“Based on the psychology of language in combination with data analytics algorithms,” this API requires written language, whether spoken and then transcribed or written originally. Speeches, articles, essays, and even tweets can provide enough text for the API to determine a person’s personality traits. The Personality Insights API generates results based on five key characteristics and a wide variety of additional personality traits.

To learn precisely how the API generates results, you can further examine the technology here

“Any score above the mean of 0.5 indicates a greater than average tendency for a characteristic. A score at or above 0.75 indicates readily discernible aspects of the characteristic; such scores are considered high. The opposite statements are true of scores below 0.50 and 0.25, which are considered low.” 

Read on to discover more about the personality traits of the top digital PR leaders. 

Most Important Personality Traits for Digital PR and Content Marketing Leaders

So, what does it take to be successful in online PR and link building in 2020? 

When we looked at the top five characteristics of all of the leaders on the list, these 10 traits showed up most frequently. It seems that PR and link building influencers today are energetic, assertive, and adventurous.

IBM Watson defines a high activity level/energetic score as leading “fast-paced and busy lives.” This makes perfect sense for link builders and PRs alike. After all, when the latest PR crisis or trending news story hits, you can’t take your time. You have to jump on every opportunity that the news cycle gives you to earn press for your client. 

Adventurousness was another characteristic that showed up among the top five traits of all influencers we looked at. Some of the best PR campaigns offer adventure. PR professionals know that sometimes you have to take big risks to earn big rewards (and big press!). 

Top Personality Traits of 29 Digital Public Relations and Link Building Influencers

How did we come up with the top 29 digital PR and link building influencers for our analysis? Well, some were no-brainers, like Mark Ragan and Gini Dietrich. Mark is the owner of Ragan Communications and PR Daily, and Gini is an industry legend, owning and operating Arment Dietrich, as well as “Spin Sucks,” the popular public relations blog. 

Our list is decorated with up-and-comers like Kristen Vaughn, who is slaying the link building scene, freelancers such as Michelle Garrett, and entrepreneurs like Marsha Wright, CEO of 

From Brian Solis to Heather West and Shonali Burke, scroll through the flipbook to see the radar charts of all of the marketing leaders we analyzed.

How Do Digital PR Leaders Compare?

What do leaders like David Meerman Scott, Sarah Evans, and Ann Gynn have in common? How do they differ? 

While the previous charts are a thorough way to showcase the complete personality profiles of digital PR and link building leaders, we selected a few key traits to analyze to understand better how these influencers compare to each other. 

Who is the most cooperative digital PR professional? Who among the leading link builders ranks highly for modesty? 

We found that, on average, Michele Linn, Steve Farnsworth, and Valerie Simon were the most cooperative in the industry, and Brandi Boatner, Deirdre Breakenridge, and Marsha Wright were the most outgoing digital PR influencers on Twitter. When it comes to the most intelligent leaders, men dominated the top 10 (unlike other traits), which makes you wonder how IBM Watson determines intellect. Still, Heather Whaling tied with Seth Arenstein, Mark Ragan, and Brian Solis


Most people would agree that it’s better to have a workplace filled with people from diverse backgrounds, with unique experiences and perspectives. While there are no required prerequisites to being successful in the PR industry, with IBM Watson’s help, we were able to identify the character traits among digital PR’s most influential personalities. If you’re looking to get into digital PR or link building, consider embracing assertiveness, intellect, and adventure to emulate some of the most successful leaders.


For this study, we selected 29 well-known digital PR leaders who provide frequent commentary on the industry online. We gathered tweets from the personal Twitter accounts of the 29 selected digital PR influencers. After we’d obtained over 2,500 words, we utilized the IBM Watson Personality Insights API to procure the above findings. In addition to the names mentioned above, we also looked at the Twitter profiles of Melanie Downey, Nikki Woods, Rachel Kay, Annie Jennings, Beki Winchel, and Bill Stoller.

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This is a post by a Guest Author. Disclaimer: The author's views are entirely his or her own, and don't necessarily reflect the opinions of BuzzStream.

Disclaimer: The author's views are entirely their own, and don't necessarily reflect the opinions of BuzzStream.
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