You’re Hired! Finding the Right PR Talent

It is no longer enough to be a hard worker and team player. The skills valued by PR professionals and their bosses mirror some of the qualitative traits most coveted by employers in any industry.

The just-released Global Communications Report, by the University of Southern California’s Center for Public Relations provides some interesting data on current trends in the media and in the world of public relations. Last week, I wrote a post exploring the changing media mix and the projections for further, possibly dramatic, change in media usage anticipated in the next few years.

The study also shines a light on another challenge that has not received adequate attention in our industry: hiring the appropriate talent. One of the key conclusions of the USC report is that there remain questions today about the PR industry’s ability to attract the right talent. In fact, top executives in PR agencies and in corporate communications departments both noted in the survey that the ability to attract and retain talent is the greatest challenge preventing them from achieving their future goals.

Quite interestingly, industry leaders told the survey that although hard work and the ability to work as a team member are very important traits of people they’d want to hire, the real talent gap lies elsewhere. They already can find and hire people who can work hard and can function as team members. They are looking now for people with more esoteric skills such as creativity, intellectual curiosity and critical thinking.

This does relate to the study’s other conclusions: the media mix is changing, PR will remain important and viable if it evolves and stays current with the times, and that PR people need to be nimble in understanding the changes in the media and in their industry. It’s no longer a matter of just writing a standard press release and hitting the “send” button. Creativity, curiosity and critical thinking are already valued at a premium.

It’s also notable that three of the top four skills executives are hiring fill are reflective of a new skill set for our industry. Writing ability, a traditional and essential skill, still tops the list with 89% of executives saying they value it highly. But the next three are strategic planning (84%), social media expertise (76%) and multimedia content development (76%). These three skills reflect today’s PR world in which strategic thinking and literacy in new media are much in demand.

So for people of all ages who think creatively, exhibit intellectual curiosity, and understand a wealth of new media, the PR industry is awaiting your applications.