Like many decent PR people, we’ve been fortunate enough to have received the odd compliment from a client here and there, but one which stands out was from the Shipstones Titan himself, Richard Neale.
He said that whilst Tank was a great PR agency, what really made us stellar was our unmatched ability to recruit the best people that made the best team.
Now I bow to the experts at Macildowie, James(es) Taylor and Calder, for all things recruitment, I really do. But Tank’s own humble potion for uber-recruitment has served us well as a business, as we still haven’t lost a staff member since the day we started. Yes, I am going to keep reminding our competitors / industry of that until it’s no longer the case!
Now we’re about to start looking for a hungry (make that starving) B2B focused account manager to join the team in the New Year, so I thought that whilst throwing that out there, I would share a few of our personal recruitment secrets for success.
I think that often people’s perceived flaws are what makes them most likeable and sometimes in the PR world, great at their jobs. PR is not for robots, it’s for rainmakers and so the best people are often those less ordinary. An example or this was a past colleague whose manner could have been considered ‘bumbling’, but a fool he wasn’t as he disarmed busy journalists and made them laugh, subsequently making him a master of selling in stories.
The Ability to Dislike
A lot of business coaches say that strategy is as much about what you leave out as it is what you introduce, and to that end, I’m more interested in what people dislike. We’re not negative, but there are certain elements of let’s say ‘popular culture’ that are best left at the door, or even better, just outside the city walls. It’s our job to create new routes to market for our clients, so we need people to be able to create ‘what good looks like’ in PR terms in rapidly changing markets.
It is a trait of jobseekers now to state in their first interview that their ambition resides beyond your business. Whilst we admire that, we choose the people whose ambition is to take us there too.
Whilst it’s by no means ‘jobs for the boys’, we like to have some assurance about the people we’re recruiting. One employee stalked us for weeks at events / bars etc. to get his face known before being taken on. One of the last round clinchers for another staff member was that her sister was a PR star – and we were right, the skills were passed along! It’s important to say at this point that these people passed tough, three stage job interviews too, but the above and many other small things gave them an edge.
Everyone in this industry that is good can change their manner and adapt their skills for the variety of industries we work in on behalf of clients. This is a crucial thing that we look for, the ability to learn to fit into lots of environments like a native.
Look Outside the Industry
Our team comprises former advertising copywriters, journalists, radio presenters, bar managers, linguists, film producers and directors – I could go on. As in many industries, the best PR people don’t always start out as PR people – they find their way into it. For the record the best account manager outside of PR that I’ve ever seen (based on his ability to inform, sell, present and reassure in meetings) worked for a Scottish advertising agency. If that person was not based in Glasgow for the long-term, they would work for Tank PR.