Finding the Ideal PR Candidate


No single set of skills will match the requirements of every PR role, but we found that most senior-level PR pros we asked - from agencies, nonprofits and major corporations - are looking for a group of skills that match today's marketplace trends. Companies need employees who can put PR in a global perspective, who have stamina, and who can balance their creativity with their business savvy (or, in one of our advisor's words, "The Osbournes" with The Wall Street Journal). Read on for more on what some of our PR NEWS Advisory Board members want in their candidates. Alisa Fogelman-Beyer, GM, Hill and Knowlton, DC The agency world has always been tough, but today's PR professionals need to be even more skilled than before. We are up against tremendous obstacles - from dealing with difficult economic times, facing challenges in our clients' industries, to dealing with the media in a post 9-11 world of constantly breaking news. It takes stamina to stay optimistic and passion to stay in the game. Today's PR professionals must possess a sales mentality along with exceptional communications skills. Competition for a smaller pool of clients is fierce. Today's PR professionals need to be faster, better, smarter on everything from tailoring a pitch, to meeting the news of the day, to defining their niche among a sea of value-added offerings by other firms. One must be aggressive, proactive and humble all at the same time. Roberta Carlton, Director, Global PR, PTC The answer varies based on what level I am looking at and for what role. With the smaller department these days, finding someone with experience, good writing skills and the ability to jump right in is key. That said, I'll always hire based on enthusiasm first. Are they excited about PR? Do they want to learn and make it their life's work? Right now I am looking to hire someone to drive our European PR program. I want a senior-level person with an international perspective. Maybe they speak several languages. Maybe they have done PR in several countries. I don't want someone with a single market view. I wouldn't hire myself for this job as I have only ever lived in the United States, even if I have previously headed up PR for a global company which was headquartered outside the U.S. My view is still too limited. I also don't want someone who has just done PR in Europe. I need them to integrate our European PR activities with the rest of the global PR program. Overall, I want excellent writers and communicators who understand business, who understand what is news and what isn't. Brenda Siler, Director of PR, ASHA So much is being made of having business knowledge with heavy suggestions being offered on the value of an MBA. I guess if you are coming out of school nowadays, an MBA can make you more competitive. I've been in the profession for 27 years, so I am not going back to school (unless for a totally different career). But whether or not you have an MBA, business knowledge is essential. I just call it understanding what keeps the CEO up at night. Pay attention and ask questions. Read and watch current information to keep up with trends. There are ideas and opportunities everywhere! For example, last night I was reading The Wall Street Journal while watching "The Osbournes" on MTV. Yes, formal education is the foundation, but learning takes place 24-7.

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