To build a great PR agency, you need great employees. Like any creative services business, a public relations or content marketing company is only as good as its talent. Here are the ways that agencies can bring in the best.
Cultivate a strong sense of identity and culture. The most attractive companies are those that know who they are and what they stand for. By the same token, a strong team creates a strong culture. Diversity within team members is important, but a common purpose and passion is what makes a stellar newcomer want to join.
Provide concrete opportunities for growth. Everyone has his or her own career vision, and the most ambitious seek support and flexibility to achieve it. Acknowledge the candidates’ strong points and areas of desired expertise, and offer a position that is two parts designed for individual strengths, along with one part challenging to foster development. For example, if a candidate comes from a strong consumer PR background, it’s wise to focus on consumer accounts but with some B2B and social media responsibilities included. Tailoring each staffer’s position to a personalized track may seem time-consuming, but the employee’s drive and loyalty to your company will pay off.
Value ownership of projects. Give employees at all levels frequent opportunities to spearhead projects from start to finish. It’s one of the best ways for them to learn and develop skills, while giving you a chance to observe the breadth of their strengths to leverage in future projects. Some agencies offer junior staffers or interns the opportunity to manage a pro bono program under the auspices of senior account staff; it’s a win-win for all involved.
Offer visibility. This can be enabled in many ways, including open office layouts, regular opportunities for junior and senior staff to connect, or impromptu “kudos” emails to celebrate accomplishments. A study by the Harvard Business Review reveals that “72% of [survey] respondents rank recognition given for high performers as having a significant impact on employee engagement.” An open, inclusive office environment where everyone feels respected and heard fosters employee growth at every level.
Cherish true work-life balance. This doesn’t mean employees may leave at 5:00 yet are expected to stay online until 9:00! PR work can be demanding, but well-rested and refreshed staff are happier and more productive. Results from a Gallup survey show that staff at companies lacking workplace wellness miss 68 percent of work due to poor health annually, and are five times more likely to seek out a new employer within the next year. Showing people their company cares about their well-being, health and outside pursuits — whether through benefits, vacation or personal day allowances — motivates employees to work harder.
Make room for creativity and risks. At their core, PR professionals are extremely creative people. If they wanted a predictable, structured career they would’ve gone into accounting. Keep employees engaged and interested by being supportive of new ideas and approaches for clients, teams and projects. Not every idea is usable, but it’s important to show that management will always listen. Never underestimate the power of collaborative and creative minds, and watch both your employees and company grow over time. As Marcus Buckingham says, “Talent is the multiplier. The more energy and attention you invest in it, the greater the yield. The time you spend with your best is, quite simply, your most productive time.”