Four PR Questions (#4PRQs) is a new series on the blog. I am on the mission to help PR graduates (including myself) make right decisions about future careers, by asking industry leaders for an advice. Today’s interviewee is David Gallagher — one of the most inspiring PR people I have met. David used to be the European CEO at Ketchum. He has just recently moved into wide-ranging, global role at Omnicom PR Group. David is highly experienced, knowledgable, astute and full of insights on many practises of the industry.
MK: What was your way to the industry?
DG: I studied journalism at university and took a few courses in PR, following a rather disastrous experiment with astronomy. My first jobs were with healthcare NGOs, mostly as a writer and editor and later as a media relations representative. That evolved into a job with a small agency in Washington, DC, which in turn led to an opportunity at Ketchum there.
What are the most desired skills you are looking for in graduates that are not common?
Different positions require different skill sets and experience, but all roles in PR require critical thinking, excellent written and verbal communications and an insatiable curiosity about the world around us. We also say: train for skill, hire for attitude. In theory this means we can teach you the skills, but in practice you’ll need to come with a basic understanding of communications theory and application. As for attitude, we want strong orientations to problem solving, team work, leadership and self-confidence. I also say that I personally want to hire people who consider themselves lucky – fortune follows the brave, after all.
We want strong orientations to problem solving, team work, leadership and self-confidence.
How can PR graduates gain attention of the agencies and other potential employers?
Choose potential employers who interest you and start listening them on social media, engage them wherever and whenever it makes sense, and experiment with ‘making stuff’ – blog posts, YouTube video, book reviews, meet-ups/social groups, anything that interests you, really – so that we can see you know how to connect with people through your ideas and content.
What is the most undiscovered area in the industry that could be used as a dissertation topic?
Diversity is a big topic at agencies and with in-house communications teams – but I have not seen much data on best practices, how other industries address it, or insights into the interests of under-represented populations in PR.
Would you like to give me a feedback or feature in the series? Drop me a line to kl.marcel [at] gmail.com or tweet me @marcelkl. Thanks for stopping by!