Why ‘soft skills’ are a solid investment for PR pros

PR insider Jamie McLaughlin shares what PR agencies and internal teams are looking for in their ideal candidate. Plus, we share top job listings for communications experts on the move.

Editor’s note: This piece is part of a series. Be sure to check back soon to get more insights from PR talent experts.

If there’s one trait that PR agencies and inhouse teams are looking for above all others, it’s flexibility.

In conversation with Jamie McLaughlin,  of JWM Talent, who has spent 14 years specializing in finding top candidates for communications teams, one thing comes up again and again: Today’s PR pros must be ready to adapt to a rapidly changing work environment.

Don’t call them ‘soft’

“I’m reluctant to say soft and hard skills, because I think in PR it often is the soft skills that that separates the great PRs from the rest,” McLaughlin says.

The exact makeup of those hard-to-quantify skills can vary depending on the business or agency looking to hire.

“We’ve very much seen a movement toward integration,” says McLaughlin. “They’re looking for people with data analytics skills; they’re looking for people with creative strategy skills; they’re looking for people with brand positioning skills.”

However, McLaughlin sees the requisites for PR success as going beyond a traditional CV.

“Why people are successful in PR and communications is that they are always on the front foot,” he explains. He says PR pros will land on their feet “If they are proactive if they are intellectually inquisitive, if they are intellectually agile … if they are simply easy to get on with. They are someone the CEO is going to spend a lot of time with.”

The skills that will make any communicator indispensable, according to McLaughlin, are curiosity and mental acuity.

Those who will easily find a home in public relations, he says, are “people who are proactive, inquisitive and intellectually agile—and by that I mean that they can understand complex issues and thoughts and then be able to relay them to the right audiences.”

Here are 10 new opportunities for PR and marketing pros:

Marketing and Public Relations Specialist, REI – San Francisco

Assistant Manager, Global PR, Allbirds – San Francisco

VP, Public Relations, Grubhub – Chicago

Manager, Media Relations, Edelman – New York City

Communications Specialist, University of Florida – Gainesville, Florida

CEO Communications Manager, The Job Network – Marietta, Georgia

Director, Design and Branding, Delta – Atlanta

Media Relations Specialist, Volkswagen of America – Herndon, Virginia

Coordinator, Marketing and Industry Communications, U.S. Travel Association – Washington, D.C.

PR Specialist, Alexa, Amazon – Seattle



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