How do you recognise rockstar PR consultants?
Having worked in the PR industry since 2005, I’ve worked alongside many PR professionals that could be characterised as “rockstar PR consultants.”
One rockstar PR consultant easily outweighs three or four average consultants. They make clients happier, attract business (and other “rockstars”), and put their mark on the agency as a whole.
In this blog post, you’ll learn:
Where do they come from?
What’s their secret?
How do you become one?
How do you hire them?
Let’s dive right in:
Where Does Rockstar PR Consultants Come From?
A rockstar PR consultant can come from anywhere.
Some have been fantastic account managers. Other strategic masterminds. Others are creative geniuses. Others have been leaders, some inspiring, some actionable.
Some are educated communicators. Others are lawyers, business administrators, politicians, speakers, journalists etc. One of the best PR consultants I ever had the pleasure of working with used to be a nuclear physicist.
Some can light up a room with their charisma; some you won’t even notice until you see the quality of their work. Some are extroverts; some are introverts.
My good friend Richard Yams, nowadays Head of Content at Burson-Marsteller, once wrote:
“An organisation I worked for had a founder who said that he preferred to hire consultants that had good self-confidence and low self-esteem.”
I agree that many successful consultants have a strong inner drive that sometimes stems from dark places.
But what makes rockstar PR consultants stand out?
The Secret Trait That All PR Rockstars Share
Once they get up to speed, rockstar PR consultants will start to extinguish themselves amongst their peers:
- You badly want them on your team.
- They always find a way to blow your mind.
- They make things look easy out-of-the-box.
- They’re often social media naturals.
- Mysteriously, they tend always to come out on top.
- You can see it in that their eyes, that they “get it”.
After many years of finding and recruiting PR talent, I’ve finally arrived at an answer:
The secret: Rockstar PR consultants don’t need (or expect) authority to explain how to succeed and get things done.
These individuals seem to have things already figured out – and they turn every task into an opportunity:
- If you want them to take over a small client, they turn that client into a big one.
- If they’re asked to do something, they look for innovative ways to get record results.
- In feedback talks, they give you feedback on how you can help them succeed.
Ask yourself: Are you waiting for authority to tell you what to do or how to succeed? Are you waiting for the authority to permit you? Are you waiting for someone to give you a chance?
How to Spot PR Rockstars in Recruiting Interviews
So, how do you determine if the candidate in front of is a rockstar PR consultant — or if they have rockstar potential?
Before the interview, I give them a task. For instance, I could ask them to prepare and present a PR case study. Then, I look at how the candidates tackle this specific task:
1. Some will do their best to crush the assignment. Most candidates will focus on the task at hand and do their best to execute it as flawless as possible. They’re striving to get an A+ on the assignment. They want to hear the recruiter say, “wow, that’s the best way to do what we asked you to do.”
2. Some will improve the rules of the assignement. A few candidates will instead turn the assignment into an opportunity to change the rules to their benefit. They might say that the task was wrong, that ‘creative PR ideas’ wasn’t what this fictitious client needed — and instead present an innovative strategy.
I would go for the second group of candidates. I would also look for candidates who improve the outcome and the contextual framework because that’s what rockstar PR consultants do.