What do PR agency owners and managers want from entry-level employees? In a post-digital age, one would think that being social media savvy and having online video chops are just two of the disciplines that would hold strong appeal.
Such digital skills won’t hurt PR job candidates, of course. But it’s traditional job skills that are most in demand among U.S. PR agencies, according to a recent survey conducted by Don Bates, who teaches PR at New York University and is senior counselor, digital and new technology at Gould+Partners.
Those responding to the survey represented a cross section of Gould+Partners’ U.S. database of hundreds of firms. Roughly 54.5 percent were from agencies with revenue under $3 million, and 30.9 percent were from agencies with revenue of $3 million-$10 million.
While the latest Twitter campaign and brands and organizations can game Snapchat tend to suck up more and more of the marketing oxygen, the survey revealed that “Writer” was the first priority among PR agency owners for new hires (93 percent), followed by “Media Pitcher” (90 percent) and “Researcher” (59 percent).
“Researcher in this instance means someone who is good at finding and analyzing information, not someone who is a professional opinion researcher,” Bates writes. “Writing, a perennial issue in PR as well as in K-12 education, elicited the usual clichés: ‘Please get them to have good writing skills.’ That is so important and yet missing in most college grads” and ‘Strong writing skills are our first priority in a new hire.’”
The survey featured five questions, focusing on education, preferred degree and personal attributes, for example.
“We look for a diversity of skills, we don’t want all traditional PR experience, but what else does the talent bring to the conversation?” said one agency executive. “Where they have lived, worked, volunteered? How up to date are they on trends, digitization, economic and global issues that will be discussed with clients? What’s their Rolodex like? What do they read, what events do they/have they attended, what knowledge do they have on brands and the perception of those brands so we know how they think?”