For most offices and practice areas within a PR firm, this question would be both inappropriate and irrelevant. For public affairs offices, particularly those in DC, it's a slightly different story.
Many clients expect a public affairs group to reflect a diverse range of political views and backgrounds. They seek communications pros with hands-on experience in the complex and challenging world of political and policy decision-making.
Not surprisingly, when recruiting staff for public affairs practices, it is seldom necessary to have to ask about a candidate's party affiliation as their employment history often lists former positions on Capitol Hill, in the executive branch, or with political campaigns.
For candidates who are applying for public affairs jobs for the first time, be sure to include all of your past work experience - both paid and unpaid - such as Congressional internships and campaign volunteer work.
It's important to note that while public affairs firms try to maintain a balance of ideological viewpoints, they generally do not apply a party litmus test to any individual hire. As with any other office in a PR firm, strong communications skills, strategic savvy, and excellent references should be the deciding factors.
Ranny Cooper is president of public affairs at Weber Shandwick.
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