December 14, 2017

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

What PR managers should look for in new hires

What PR managers should look for in new hires

As we inch closer to the end of 2016, PR professionals looking to change their surroundings may be looking for new jobs, and PR firms are always on the lookout for new talent. Beyond the hard skills an employee learns in school or on the job, what else should PR managers be looking for in new hires?

To keep pace with the PR industry’s rapid changes, there are a number of attributes that will help a new employee stand out.

Creativity

PR depends on creative employees, and not just for writing good copy or solid news releases. A creative employee will look beyond the obvious answers and find a new or interesting way to approach a client problem. Having ideas that can stand out from the crowd is important in a cluttered media environment.

Curiosity

A curious employee is one who will keep asking “why?” or “how?” when searching for the right way to approach issues. Curiosity can lead to making unexpected connections between ideas, and curiosity also means that the employee will be willing to do the research and background work that is necessary to do good PR work. Curiosity is also a great attribute to have when deploying new measurement goals and programs, because digging into data to find real insight requires curiosity.

Attention to detail

Modern PR moves at a breakneck pace, particularly on social channels. Having employees that pay attention to the details is imperative—checking that hashtag to make sure it’s appropriate to use, or taking the extra seconds to verify a detail before tweeting something out on behalf of a client may mean the difference between spending a few minutes of routine work on a client account or spending the day doing damage control from an accidental crisis. Attention to detail needn’t be that dramatic though—it is also important for doing the everyday work of PR: making sure that proper punctuation is used, ensuring that client work matches their corporate style standards, or double-checking the measurement numbers so that reports are accurate and contain sound data.

Seeing the big picture

The opposite side to the detail coin is the ability to step back and take a 30,000-foot view of any programs being worked on. A great deal of communications and public relations work is fairly routine, which means that long-term goals can sometimes get lost in the daily grind. The ability to keep the big picture in mind by taking the mental step back from the daily slog means that you’re more likely to see potential opportunities that might not have been considered at the outset of a PR program. Along with creativity, this can allow a PR practitioner to find the unexpected.

Adaptability

With the lines between PR, advertising, and marketing blurring, the best employees are going to be the ones who can adapt quickly to the changing demands of communications. The PESO model means that PR practitioners need to have an understanding of a variety of programs and practice areas that were previously not considered within the realm of PR. It’s unlikely that these types of changes are going to stop anytime soon, so finding employees who are adaptable will be important to their—and your—long-term success.

A love of learning

This attribute has never been more important to the PR field. Every day it seems that there are new ideas, new platforms, or new technologies to be explored. It can actually get a bit overwhelming, particularly when you are up to your eyeballs in client work—but, if you have an innate love of learning new things, the relentless pace will feel more like an opportunity than a challenge.

Bonus: big reader

Strong readers make good writers, and writing is still the most valuable trait for communications work. Strong readers are also generally adept at synthesizing information quickly, and are more likely to be familiar with story structure, which makes for writing compelling content.

PR managers already know what kinds of hard skills they are looking for in a new hire, but moving beyond those and uncovering the attributes listed above will make for a well-rounded, adaptable employee who can think beyond the immediate task at hand. In a changing PR world, finding the right fit will mean success for both the employee and the PR manager.

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About The Author

Jennifer Zingsheim Phillips is the founder of 4L Strategies, and has worked in communications and public affairs for just over 20 years. Her background includes work in politics, government, lobbying, public affairs PR work, content creation, and digital and social communications and media analysis.

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