Written by Ryan Ayers
Whether you’re trying to make a great PR team within a company or corporation or creating a full-service PR firm, there are some “make or break” qualities you should look for in potential teammates. Some of these skills, both professional and personal, can be taught, and with that in mind, having an open-minded team is very important, as PR processes and norms do change regularly with societal pressure.
Here are some things to look for when building your perfect PR team.
Given the changing nature of the job, large gaps in PR employment can be quite detrimental (but can be outweighed by some of the professional and personal traits mentioned later). Fresh faces on a team always bring new and innovative ideas, and having at least a couple of team members who recently finished a secondary education in public relations can help bring those ideas to the team.
Keeping team members current is also important, and regular PR training should be a big focus once your team is formed. While forming it, seek open-minded individuals who want to learn and continue learning.
On the contrary relative to new graduates, relevant experience is also very important to any team. If you are creating a PR firm, the more years of team experience you can show potential client, the more confidence they are likely to have in your team. For those PR teams who are part of a larger organization, selling yourself isn’t as important, but having experienced individuals is just as important for the endgame of perfection.
Try to create a solid mix of leaders and managers who have both experience and fresh ideas, and who display these personal traits that really dictate how successful someone can be in the world of public relations.
Training and professional skills are very important, but ultimately it’s people skills that make the best PR professionals. When dealing with the public, there are so many different personalities to please and so many opportunities to offend or make a mistake. Being able to overcome these mistakes is in and of itself an important trait of a great PR professional (because they will happen) as are these 4 things:
- Communication – Really a no-brainer in PR, but important to mention. Communication is a skill that can be learned! The pandemic caused many businesses to move to the remote workplace, and the money saved in office costs is helping this trend continue, even as everything opens back up. With this, a PR professional needs to have a stellar hybrid skillset of both in-person and digital communications, including an understanding of social media practices as they relate to PR.
- Creativity – Though a lot of PR reactive in nature, that doesn’t mean creativity isn’t very important. Most of us think of creativity as a long process of coming up with ideas and creating a new product or service, but in PR on-the-spot creativity can save a company, and finding team members who can come up with ideas on the fly will greatly help your team, especially during crises.
- Teamwork – Some people do their best work in private. These individuals should stay away from public relations. Having a team who is fueled by collaboration is an amazing thing, and if you can create one, you’re bound for success.
- Accountability – Part of being a willing and good teammate is being able to admit when you were wrong and knowing you have a team that will accept your mistake and use it as a point of growth. This starts with the management, so be sure to always take responsibility for anything and everything you do (this means the good stuff, too)!
Even if you’re the greatest boss of all time, modern business means a pretty steady flow of employees in and out of a given business. Be sure to set up processes that allow the new members of your team to flourish, while also teaching them what your core values are and what you’re looking for in them, whether on this list or not.
Remember: Consider the Whole
When building your PR team, it’s important to look for these skills and qualities. But it’s also important to consider the person’s background and personality as a whole. If they are lacking in one or two areas, would they still make a great addition to the team with some additional training and development?
A resume can only tell you so much. It’s very important to have an in-depth conversation with applicants during the interview process. Try to get a feel not only for what they can contribute to the team professionally, but also what they can contribute to the culture and morale of your organization. Consider your choices carefully!
Ryan Ayers is a researcher and consultant within multiple industries including information technology, blockchain, and business development. Always up for a challenge, Ayers enjoys working with startups as well as Fortune 500 companies. When not at work, Ayers loves reading science fiction novels and watching the LA Clippers.