Who are PR people?
Public relations is one of the fastest growing fields today and it’s no surprise why. Think of your favorite brand, product, movie, superstar, etc. How do you hear about them? What is their public image like? What kind of reputation do they have?
Behind every brand or business, there is a communication team behind the scenes. A PR professional does exactly what the title says – manages the public relations a brand has with its audience. There are many tasks that fall under the management of public relations – press coverage, crisis control, branding, reputation management, etc. Being a PR professional requires a strong set of written and verbal communication skills as well as a clear understanding of the space and the dynamic between a brand and its audience.
When is it time for your business or brand to hire a PR professional? Right now. Businesses of all sorts and sizes are always in need of a PR services in some way, shape, or form. Got news? A PR pro can help your business get the media coverage you need. Something go terribly wrong? A PR pro can help you in times of crisis by coaching you in how to alleviate the bad press. Are you a new business? A PR pro can help you develop your brand.
Interviewing a PR Professional
PR professionals must have a specific set of skills if they are going to positively benefit a business or brand. Here are the top three questions to ask during an interview and the ideal answers the candidate should give.
1) How are your writing skills? (Ask for samples)
Writing plays a huge part in a PR pro’s roll so the ideal candidate must not only have exceptional writing skills but enjoy the task as well. The candidate should reply that his or her writing skills are very strong and express how much they enjoy being able to take what may be the most mundane or ordinary content and turn it into something relatable or interesting. This candidate should also be able take on different voices as writing tasks within this field vary from pitching the media to corporate language to casual conversation.
2) An employee accidentally tweeted a derogatory statement on the company’s Twitter account and the company is getting a lot of negative backlash. How do you respond?
A crisis of any size can happen at any given time, so PR professionals should be ready to jump in and assuage the situation. Similarly, the ideal candidate should reply that immediate action from the company is necessary – the company should acknowledge the issue, own up to it, apologize, and address it right away.
3) What advice would you give a startup business looking to get some attention?
All companies would love to have the kind of coverage Apple gets for even the smallest announcements. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. The ideal candidate will understand that media placement is not an automatic or easy thing and should communicate the reality to the business rather than make an overzealous promise. This individual would also tell the business that creating and staying true to a brand identity is an important part of building a successful business.
A PR professional must be a jack-(or jill)-of-trades that embraces the challenge of wearing many hats. The ideal candidate is confident in his/her writing ability, always aware of current trends and events, unafraid to reach out to members of the press, and undeterred by rejection should a media member choose not pick up the story.
Eileen Bernardo is the PR/Communication manager for Viralheat, a social media marketing suite, where where you’ll find her writing – pitches, emails, marketing campaigns, contributed and feature articles, website and product content, etc.
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