We were recently asked by a hotel GM what he should be looking for when he recruits his PR manager this month.
Firstly we believe the title should be communications manager not PR manager. Today's communicator is so much more than just a savvy media relations person or someone who knows how to write a press release.
She, we will call her a she even though the industry is attracting more males these days, also has to be able to set and effectively manage a social media programme. She has to turn out persuasive copy for marketing collaterals and also be able to write effective website copy. She should also be well versed in crisis communications.
When it comes to what skills to look for the most important and oft overlooked competence is writing. You would be amazed how many communications professionals do not possess this very basic necessity. Having the ability to be able to switch from a journalistic style of writing for press releases to ad copy and to online writing is a vital requirement.
One size does not fit all.
Media relations are another skill that is often not considered when interviewing candidates. If the prospective communications manager doesn't know how the media work and what they are looking for the relationship will not be a smooth one and the chances of being the first call when a comment is needed are slim.
With regards to the reporting line so many hotels prefer the communications manager to report to the DOSM rather than the GM and this has always puzzled us. A DOSM's focus is numbers – selling room nights – while the communications manager's role is to protect and improve a brand's image. While there has to be a degree of collaboration with these two departments, they are nonetheless two different aspects of the marketing mix.
The hotel communications manager forms an important bridge between the hotel, the media and stakeholders and is therefore an integral member of the executive team. She not only provides vital information about brand perception of the hotel in the market, she is also key to ensuring the property's messages are being communicated and understood.
This is a very simplified summary of the role of the communications manager but it does give a broad overview of the vital role she plays in an organisation.