Obama just took office and has carefully crafted his dream team to run the government as president of cool. Building a PR agency team is no different. During the current economy choosing the dream team is based on one part experience and one part hungry. During a daunting search for interns, client executives, senior managers and other specialist we have been as picky as Obama. Interviewing for the PR dream team is a lot like dating. Some you want to last forever and others you can’t wait to end. Others, you meet you want to stay friends with or network with to connect the dot.
There’s a lot of hiring, team building and HR books on the market but after 23 years in the PR industry I can determine in a matter of seconds if the person I’m speaking to has the “it factor”. In PR common sense goes well beyond any diploma or award. Yes, you need to be a great communicator both written and spoken, but ultimately those with strategy, media contacts and a continuous passion for pushing the envelop for the next big story, the next big thing and the next big bit of ink make up the PR dream team.
My mentor in the industry is a woman named Margaret Epperheimer. http://www.linkedin.com/search?search=&sortCriteria=3&company=%22Epperheimer+Associates%22¤tCompany=currentCompany She hired me from the editorial pool of a major publisher paying less than a school teacher’s salary. She believes in me and brought me on board to her dream team at 3Com in the roaring late 80’s when Cisco was a start up down the road. She knew that despite my experience that my tenacity, ability to type 155 words a minute and willingness to work hard was more important than a big portfolio of who’s who. I felt honored to be part of the PR team and was a sponge to her every move and new someday I wanted to be in her powerful role. Her dream team was made up of very experience PR folks that I respect and admire to date including Nick Parham that is leading a successful executive coaching business http://www.linkedin.com/pub/0/3ab/480. Nick taught me to be fearless and confident….while not taking myself too seriously. There is nothing I can’t do he would tell me….and it’s a rule I live by today. Rene Siegel of High Tech Connect http://www.linkedin.com/in/renesiegel who left about a year after I joined the company and took the risk of joining a start up….and inspired me to do the same. She was one of the first peers that showed me you can have it all…career, motherhood and a sense of humor. There were others that have greatly influenced my career but these are the ones I remember daily…the ones that made me realized that I have the “It” factor and what it takes to make a job a career.
I’ve had the fortune to work with fabulous people since I’ve started the Loughlin/Michaels Group. Two really stand out. One Native Chicagoan that Obama would elect to his dream team in a minute. English is not her first language but with the tenacity and drive she went from shy student to prolific writer and PR ace. She is one of the nicest and most loyal people I know and I consider her a lifelong friend. The other is a native of California that is quick as a whip and makes multitasking motherhood of two look easy. They have the “It” factor hands down. Both have the tenacity, drive and commitment that Margaret Epperheimer saw in me way back in 1987. Yes, way back when we mailed press releases to editors, used Wang computers and Microsoft and Cisco were small companies. I’m blessed to have worked with such amazing people in my career. Now, I’m interviewing for the next generation of “It” PR people. I interview all the time. From Planet Hollywood in Lake Tahoe to Nordstrom shoe sales clerks. There’s always a young communications, journalism or PR ace just waiting to break into the industry. Doing so in this economy is not easy…but sometimes just getting someone to listen is enough. We have two interns and two planned for summer already…I’m excited about learning from them and pushing me and the team to be the best dream team we can possibly be.
Donna Michaels, Founder