The public relations industry is enjoying something of a renaissance in recent years, because social media is all about engagement, and engagement has always been the lifeblood of solid PR pros.
It’s what we do, whether it’s building relationships with print media, bloggers, or influencers on various social media channels. In short, it’s a great time to be in PR and an even better time for public relations folks to become indispensable at their respective agencies.
Here’s what I look for when hiring PR staff, whether they be junior folks looking to cut their teeth or seasoned pros hoping to make their mark at a new firm:
1. Know how to employ modern communications tools.
Beyond that, be able to explain the value of these tools to others, including colleagues and clients. Become an expert with monitoring and measurement tools, and develop a talent for communicating the results.
2. Be one of your PR firm’s best, most reliable writers.
Be the person others look to for help in crafting a meaningful pitch or a pithy post for Facebook or Twitter. A PR pro who can write the lights out can generally go far in this business, provided he/she plays well with others. So…
3. Play well with others.
Credit your peers for work well done. Do not attempt to climb over the backs of others to get up the next rung of the ladder. Earn it by being aggressive, smart, and loyal.
4. Be loyal.
Don’t be the PR person who drifts from agency to agency chasing dollars or titles. Instead, show your employer that their business is your business, and your gumption and loyalty will be rewarded.
5. Become a brainstorming, strategizing machine.
Be the person every team wants in the room for creative conjuring. Practice stretching your mind with brain games and innovative thinking. Watch how the best at your agency unlock the creative process, and then develop your own style.
6. Have your own unique work style
, but be comfortable within the agency parameters and know when to flex your individuality to the benefit of clients and/or teammates. Nobody wants to hire a robot; we just want folks to execute like a well-oiled machine.
7. Have a sense of humor in times of adversity.
Be comfortable laughing at yourself when times get tough. Your co-workers will sense whether you’re out of control or simply set back momentarily, and the ability to smile through the pain separates the goods from the greats.
8. Turn challenges into opportunities.
Speaking of “the greats,” the best people in any business do just that. They don’t spiral into an abyss of complaints and despair. They are solvers. They provide solutions. And they aren’t afraid to fail.
9. Don’t be afraid to fail.
If you do fail, do so quickly and then brush yourself off and try something new. Your clients aren’t paying you for the status quo; they want you to improve their revenue. That requires being smart and bold.
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10. Be bold—but smart.
Bring big ideas to the table, but always make sure they’re grounded in business fundamentals. Have a rationale that you can sell, and make sure you actually believe it can work. Hit a few home runs with smart ideas, and—trust me—your boss and team will covet you.
That’s my roundup of ways to be invaluable at your PR agency. What’d I miss?
Scott Signore is the principal and CEO of Matter Communications. A version of this story first appeared on the agency's PR Whiteboard blog.