How to save the fluffy kittens: Claudia Macdonald's PR bugbears

  • PR
  • March 15, 2013
  • Claudia Macdonald
How to save the fluffy kittens: Claudia Macdonald's PR bugbears

Not a week goes by that I don’t receive an enquiry about either joining our agency or getting a start in PR or events. It’s an attractive industry, apparently, with the heady combination of variety, great brands and sometimes parties. But it’s also a tough gig to get into and the competition for jobs is hot.

As an employer, with all these enthusiasts interested in our industry, it never ceases to amaze me just how hard it is to get good people. And the emphasis here is firmly on good because what all of my peers are really looking for isgreat, but they’re as rare as hen’s teeth.

Hazel Phillips’s recent rant about the paucity of some PRs has got me thinking about my own particular bugbears when it comes to hiring people. 

Spell check, peer review or simple proof reading: We recently advertised an account manager role and received ten plus CVs. NOT ONE WAS FREE OF SPELLING MISTAKES. Yes, this does deserve capitals. How on Earth can you be considered for a job where writing is one of your main skill sets and you can’t spell or proof read?

Know who you’re talking to: Another PR company I know automatically bins any CVs or emails addressed to Dear Sir/Madam. Doing your homework goes a long way and it’s incredibly easy to do. No one wants to employ someone too lazy to Google. This rule continues into your PR career when you need to know that Idealog is different from Urbis.

Ask questions: It’s nerve wracking being interviewed, which is why it’s a great idea to do your research and have a few pre-prepared questions. Again, part of a good PR person’s job is to ask questions and investigate things, so it simply shows initiative. Personally, I don’t care what the questions are.

PR and Events is not just for those who are “outgoing, enthusiastic and really good with people”: It actually requires some training and some relevant skills. Sometimes people cross over from one career into PR or events really well, but it is rare that they’ve had absolutely no previous experience in something relevant, like journalism or marketing communications. But if you’re an engineer and you’ve always been creative and great at organising parties, your best bet is to get some education before mailing out your CV.

Respect your elders: I know, in saying this I risk ridicule amongst  Gen Y and those pandering to their demands. But seriously, if I could give you a job one day and it’s one you want, don’t be an ass the first time we meet socially or at a PRINZ or CAANZ function. I gave a lecture at AUT recently.  One table of students talked through their tutor’s introduction. They weren’t rude to me but they showed a degree of disrespect for their tutor that gave me an indication of their priorities. How will they cope when confronted with clients, media, colleagues. 

There are some great Gen Y PR people out there (and luckily a fair few of them work for Mango). But  I know that if I employed someone who broke any of my above rules, they might just turn out to be the sort of person who drives Hazel to kill kittens.

  • Claudia Macdonald is managing director of Mango Communications and a founding member of the CAANZ Marcomms Leadership Group.

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