Wanted: PR Pro With Mad Social Media Skillz
Before I started my own PR company, in the days when I still had to perfect my resume, buy the perfect interview suit, and meet a public relations executive for an interview in an office with fluorescent lighting (shudder), there were certain things I knew to be true:
1. My resume—no matter how much experience I had—must fit onto one page.
2. I’d need at least three good references—and if one of those references was from a reporter, I was golden.
3. In an interview, I’d talk about my outstanding skills at working my Rolodex in order to get reporters on the telephone so I could get my clients ink. Literal ink. Like in print newspapers and newsstand magazines.
4. If I got the job, I could expect to be working at least 40 hours a week, mostly in that office with the fluorescent lighting, punctuated with buying lunches for journalists (when they’d let me) and working the red carpet or the press room at nighttime events.
Some of those things are still true—there will always be publicists staffing red-carpet events as long as there are celebrities and media—but most everything else about the process of getting and keeping a PR job has changed. (Just try to get a reporter on the phone these days!)
While this isn’t a surprise, I got a look at the nitty-gritty realities recently when I interviewed Jim Delulio, whom I worked with years ago when he was an EVP at PainePR. Today, Jim is president and founder of PR Talent, a national executive recruiting firm specializing in freelance and full-time public relations positions.
Jim has witnessed ongoing evolution in the PR business for years, and serves as a guide to the new landscape for PR professionals. Among the changes Jim described:
The skills: “I see the entire skill-set composition changing for what has been called a PR professional,” Jim says. “In the next five years, a PR person will spend 60% of their time on social media activities, 20% on traditional media, and the rest on client relations and team management.” So much for my Rolodex and landline!
In fact, Jim adds, “Social media and growth in digital are really the big demand drivers for new jobs right now. There are jobs available at all levels, from newbie to senior management, but the greatest demand is for talent at the mid levels. And the younger you are, the more it's expected that you’ll have strong social media skills.”
The hours: With the economy still on the slow road to recovery, companies are relying heavily on freelance help, rather than focusing entirely on those 40-hour-a-week fulltimers.
“Freelancers are a vital part of the mix because they allow companies, especially agencies, to manage ebbs and flows in client activity without committing to a full-time hire,” Jim says. “In addition, PR and communications have traditionally been—and likely will continue to be—female-dominated industries, and many women find freelancing a great way to build a business while raising a family.”
The resume: “Resumes no longer have to be one page—now that everyone’s resumes are digital, it’s fine to have a two- or even three-page resume, if your experience merits it,” Jim says. Other resume tips:
- List your clients: “In PR, you are who your clients are. That's what the hiring managers want to see.”
- Make it a Word doc: “Recruiters typically want to logo-stamp resumes and can't do that with a PDF. Also, if they find a last-minute typo or format error, they can correct it for you on the spot.”
- Use those job-description key words: “Resumes are often parsed or automatically searched for key words. If yours has them, you'll be scored higher by many HR departments.”
- Include your address and zip code. “Recruiters often search their databases by geography. If your resume was parsed and no address was found, you'll miss out when that recruiter is looking for someone in your home town!”
- Three references (reporter not required): Supervisor, peer and subordinate.
The interview: “The biggest mistake people make is not preparing and not knowing everything they can about the firm and its business,” Jim says. “With everything that's online today, there's no excuse. Take the time to review all of the interviewers’ backgrounds on LinkedIn so that you're aware of their work history and can talk about any mutual acquaintances or common career threads.” Other interview tips:
- Show up on time. (Should be a no-brainer, but…)
- Be confident—but not over-confident. “You may be able to do the job in your sleep, but you don’t want to come off as cocky.”
- Be prepared with your own questions. “Bring energy, excitement, and curiosity, tempered with a professional demeanor.”
At least one thing hasn’t changed: You still need the perfect interview outfit.
“You don’t want to misjudge the dress code,” Jim says. “It’s harder to do today, but it happens.”