Look beyond typical hiring criteria

I was recently asked during a new-business presentation what Formula's keys to success are. Many things have played a part in our organization's success, but the greatest factor has been hiring talented people who understand what it takes to be successful.

I was recently asked during a new-business presentation what Formula's keys to success are. Many things have played a part in our organization's success, but the greatest factor has been hiring talented people who understand what it takes to be successful.

Without the right people, Formula - or any agency, for that matter - would not be in a position to enjoy widespread success. Recognizing this, we devised the following five-point checklist:

Hire passionate people. Look for people who maintain a sense of passion for PR. These individuals need to love landing a big media interview, selling a new strategy to a client, and chasing new business. People who are charged up each day at the variety of marketing opportunities available through PR are excellent hires and set great examples for the rest of the agency.

Hire information junkies. In many ways, PR success comes from recognizing and capitalizing upon opportunities for clients. Therefore, we look for people with vast interests in such subjects as music, movies, sports, consumer technology, politics, blogging, science, etc. Whether they read Us Weekly or Newsweek, it is imperative for new hires to know what's going on in the world, not just with their clients. We ask all new hires to take a current events test, because we want active, intrigued minds.

Hire people who buy into your brand. Agencies sell themselves as a brand - just as Coke, Apple, McDonald's, or any other company does. Why would a client hire you to help build its brand if you don't look at your own company as a brand? Hire individuals who understand your agency and who believe in its philosophy, processes, and people. After all, staffers are brand ambassadors.

Hire doers. Although the importance of writing can't be stressed enough, I'd take doers over writers any day of the week. I would rather hire a strategic person who can make things happen than a strong writer who doesn't know how to think beyond the written word. People who can figure out a way to make a new contact benefit their client in some way are incredibly valuable. For example, an exploratory meeting between an employee in our LA office and a marketing person from Fox Films turned into an incredible co-branding opportunity for our client Newcastle Brown Ale.

Hire confident people. Look for people who are confident in the way they speak, in their experience, in their ability to sell, and, most important, in their ability to develop a relationship and build a comfort level with clients. Individuals who maintain an air of confidence are better leaders, managers, and employees. In short, confidence breeds success.

I am not trivializing the importance of education, experience, and references. However, for an agency to maintain its corporate culture and be truly successful, it must look beyond typical hiring traits and consider individuals who have the ability to not only bring clients greater success, but also to improve the agency.

Michael Olguin is president and founder of Formula.

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