Think Beyond the Obvious When Recruiting PR Talent

Have you seen this headline recently? White House picks Twitter lawyer as Internet privacy officer.

Obama has just appointed Nicole Wong, former Twitter lawyer, as the White House’s Chief Privacy Officer—a brand new position for the government. If you’re like us, you thought, “Wow, that’s smart.”

Finding the right person was no easy task considering there’s not a huge pool of people to choose from. Internet privacy is a relatively new concept, yet this job requires someone with loads of experience.

Enter Nicole Wong. She’s had to deal with hacks, addressing governments that want to sensor, police request she deemed out-of-line and more. No, she wasn’t Chief Privacy Officer at Twitter (or Google, where she worked before), and no she doesn’t have government experience, yet the skills she has are really relevant to the new job she’ll be handling in government.

So that got us thinking. In a PR agency, we tend to be jacks of all trades—pitchers, writers, event planners, strategizers, etc. But beyond that, if you look around your office, there’s a chance everyone possesses skills that aren’t specifically related to PR, but still offer a lot toward the job at-hand. At PCI, as we look to hire a new SAE, we’re reminded of this.

Don’t just look at standard PR skills when searching for a team member or expanding your capabilities. Instead, look to people’s other skills and passions as a way of rounding out the team you have and the services you offer—whether you’re looking for a new employee or simply growing from within.

Here are a few “non-PR” skills and personalities we’ve seen over the years that can really help an agency:

  • The person in the office who always seems to wear a new fad just before it shows up everywhere
  • You’ve got a trend-spotter who is likely great at crafting trend pitches.
  • Anyone who’s worked as a restaurant server or host
  • Customer relations at its finest—these people are usually great at making clients and the media feel taken care of on a daily basis.
  • Have a great gift wrapper in the office?
  • Use them to make new product kits look beautiful, wrap client gifts or come up with creative event decor
  • Former retail employees
  • As people who are used to rattling off product attributes and answering questions on the spot, they’re often great brand ambassadors if you’re ever doing a sampling program.

While some things will always be important to PR people—writing skills, detail orientation and efficiency to name a few, it can be the little, seemingly unrelated things that make an employee stand out and fit right in.

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