PR needs to hire for the future, not get stuck in the past

For a company to truly make a push in a new direction it must do more than just adopt new branding or a slogan. It must also hire the type of people who align with where the company wants to be in the future.

For a company to truly make a push in a new direction it must do more than just adopt new branding or a slogan. It must also hire the type of people who align with where the company wants to be in the future.

This week, for example, PepsiCo hired Timothy Cost to the new position of EVP of global corporate affairs. Cost doesn't come from the traditional background of people in that type of position, but his experience matches the new direction of the company.

His background as EVP and head of the healthcare practice at APCO and SVP of corporate affairs at pharmaceutical company Wyeth was exactly what was appealing to PepsiCo. It aligns with the beverage, cereal, and food giant's stated intention to expand its nutrition business by 10 to 30 billion dollars over 10 years.

PepsiCo is reacting to public sentiment that wants it to be healthier, as well as increased competition in the space, and it is taking steps to position itself as a company that is prepared to meet those objectives - internally and externally.

Agencies, for their part, are seeing clients reacting to a shift among consumers who are demanding transparency and engagement. To prove they are taking charge and leading integrated campaigns that answer the new demands of consumers, agencies are also hiring outside the box of traditional PR.

This week, Jorge Ortega, former president of The Jeffrey Group, was unveiled as part of a partnership that created a new firm called Newlink America. Ortega became a part of the venture, he said, because he felt he needed to be surrounded by people who are experts in different communications and advertising areas to really deliver integrated communications.

Although it should be a goal to recruit people from outside PR to expand agencies' scope of expertise, in practice these types of hire are rare.

But if agencies are to keep up with the demands of their clients, they should continually strive to match people with the background and experience in the direction their firms are looking to go – rather than the direction they are coming from.

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