Like a few other PR agency professionals I know, I occasionally look at the online job boards to see if any new business development targets are recruiting for senior public/media relations executives. A job posting like that is sometimes a signal that the company is building out its internal staff and that other changes may not be far behind — like a search for a new PR agency partner. One of the first tasks a newly hired corporate PR executive tackles is to measure the effectiveness of the company’s PR agency. Paying attention to who is moving where can pay off sometimes.
The other thing I look for when reviewing job postings is to see how companies communicate to prospective employees. Are they using corporate speak? Are fallen leaders talking about themselves like they are still the be-all and end-all of their industry – when everyone else knows they are not? Are they drinking, and selling, the corporate Kool-Aid?
You can tell a lot about the communications culture of a company, I believe, by its job descriptions. Is the company trying to attract a Gen Y candidate? If so, are they talking to a Gen Y, or a Gen X or to a senior executive candidate in a manner that their target candidate can relate to? More importantly, are they being transparent with the real opportunities and challenges of the position for prospective candidates.
While looking at some of the online job boards earlier this week, I came across this one from Royal Philips Electronics (aka Philips), the large “health and well being” company. It isn’t clear if this is a new position, or if they are replacing someone.
But from what I have seen in recent years, it’s one of the better job descriptions (ever) — at least from a transparency perspective. The descriptors are representative of a company that is being honest with itself. I’m not referring to the typical descriptors you see for an opportunity like this (i.e., working under tight deadlines), but the ones suggesting that this company is admitting its shortcomings and is reaching out for help.
In the posting, Philips points out that its senior executives don’t place a ton of value on speaking with the media, that its brand awareness is low, and that its competitors (like GE) place a greater value on the communications function and therefore have been “highly funded and active for several years and are far ahead.” The posting also points out that U.S. media outlets are reluctant to cover Philips regularly because it’s headquartered in Europe (a common challenge, but eminently navigable, for companies like Philips).
Another shortcoming of Philips’ communications program may be in how it views its relationship with the media. One descriptor says “consolidation of media makes all aspects of media manipulation problematic.” I know media outlets who cover Philips wouldn’t appreciate the company’s use of the word manipulation in this case. But thanks to a truthful assessment of the opportunity by the employer, candidates will walk into the interview process with eyes wide open.
2012 is on top of us, and that means more jobs will be posted than any other time of the year. Companies should borrow a page from Philips’ recruiting handbook by communicating honestly about who they are to prospective employees. Employer and employee are sure to benefit in the end.