For the CMO

3 Traits of Effective PR Professionals

Hiring a new public relations pro? Make sure you find the right fit.

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Public relations (PR) is an essential part of any business. Your company needs a face that can accurately communicate what you do, who you serve, and what your purpose is. Looking for a PR strategist who can smooth over issues and attract press attention, however, can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. When you’re interviewing candidates, what qualifications and particular skills should you be on the lookout for? Who will make the biggest impact on your company and put your best foot forward when it comes to interacting with the public? Here are three traits you should be looking for when searching for the perfect PR pro for your business.

  • Communication: The number one role of a PR pro is communication. Anyone you bring on for PR purposes should be able to tell great stories in an engaging way. If your candidate starts meandering on answers or saying things you don’t understand, he or she may not be a good fit. His or her speech should be quick and clear. After all, if the candidate can’t sell himself or herself to you, how will he or she sell your business to the press? If he or she is too abrasive or aggressive, that’s clearly a negative, as well. An effective communicator is an absolute must.
  • Agility: The last thing a company needs is a flustered PR professional. No matter what you ask, the interview candidate should be able to quickly adjust course. One of a PR strategist’s jobs is to respond to the public, and when your company makes a mistake, it’s important to have someone who can represent your intentions to the media. A great PR professional can think on his or her feet and be agile when it comes to quickly changing situations.
  • Relational: This trait can be hard to decipher. But put simply, how does the candidate make you feel? PR professionals need to be cultivating relationships with influential members of the media, so they need to be warm, friendly, and outgoing. If you meet a candidate who feels awkward, quiet, or unfriendly, he or she most likely isn’t going to be the type of person who will thrive as your PR strategist. Go with your gut—how do you feel when the person enters a room? Is he or she conversational, or are you dragging answers out of him or her? These are the kinds of questions that will help you decide if he or she has the vibe you’re going for.