Ask an Expert
Legacy Scholar Grant
The Page Center will award grants to support scholars and professionals making important contributions to knowledge, practice or public understanding of ethics and resposibility in public communication or other principles of Arthur W. Page.
Penn State Live
Interviewer: Do people coming out of college programs. I assume you hire recent college graduates or journalism graduates or whatever. Is there an education that you look for? Is being educated in public relations or mass communications equate to a liberal arts background. Or how is that all in your judgment.
Golin: Well I think that having the academic skills are important but I like to have somebody who knows something about sales. Now this may sound a little far a field but I think that selling is not a dirty word. I think that some of the top people in our business are pretty good salesmen too. They have to not only sell the client that we’re involved in but this is a good idea and they should pursue this. But sell people who work for t hem. It’s a constant selling job. I think that some companies major companies have hired CEOs who had no experience at all in sales. They might be Chief financial officers or they might be in the manufacturing part of the business and I think that’s fine. But I think that they have to have some sales background knowing what makes their customers tick and what makes their employees tick as well because I think that the selling concept permeates all areas of a person’s job. So when I see I’ve seen certain CEOs of major companies fail because they came out of the other ranks. And they when I say sales these are people who have never who are feel uncomfortable talking to media people or to their own employees. And they’re so introverted that they may not be able to communicate properly. I mentioned Ralph Larson of Johnson & Johnson. I go back to Johnson & Johnson not because they’re our clients which they are not but because I think they are one of the quintessential good guys and they always have been in terms of their ratings and things. And he always said that he spent 75 percent of his time communicating internally and externally and it’s selling if you will. Whether it’s security analysts on the quality of the stock the value of the stock or the people who work for him. He felt that that was such a big part of his job description. But I think too many boards of directors forget about that when they’re looking for CEOs.
Interviewer: In our world you mentioned sales as being important which I think the ability to sell. Where does creativity fit in your thinking as far as characteristics or quality of people you hire?
Golin: I think creativity is an extremely important element of our business and it always will be no matter how the media may change over the years. I think being creative still gets the juices flowing and one of the things I always enjoy doing at the office is getting involved in brainstorm meetings. Whether it’s an existing client or a new client prospect that we’re working at. I always like to get involved in that process because the creative part of it is still one of the things that got me interested in being in this business.
Interviewer: Well having said this is there a role for continuing education for people working within this discipline and what types of education would be beneficial to mid-career people or even senior people?
Golin: Oh no I think there’s a constant role of education and training. We feel very strongly about it here. And we’re constantly conducting training classes and things of that nature in anything and everything you could think about in terms of obviously the new media and technology but also things about business in general. So I think that I’m still learning and I hope that people in our business will continue to do so because otherwise they just won’t be any good at it.
Interviewer: Are these or something that could be done or best handled by existing universities and colleges or educational institutions. Or is there a role for the professional societies to be have responsive type education programs? Or does it make a difference.
Golin: I think a little of both. And I think professional societies are doing a lot more these days in that area and I really salute them for that. I think that’s a terrific thing and I’ve attended a couple of them on my own. I’ve spoken at a couple of them and we sent some of our people to them and they always come back highly stimulated and I think it’s very well worth it. And because I think our business like a lot of things is a constant evolution. Unless we’re current we’re not any good at anything we do. I like to say that you know I hope somebody throws me out if they think I’m just this fuddy duddy walking in and making some noise at the wrong time. I do think that we have to be current. And we have to know what’s going on because otherwise we’re not effective.
Interviewer: Earlier we talked about ethical behavior and performance and the role of the CEO in setting a tone within a corporation. What do you view or do you have a view on the value of mission statements and credos and things of that nature which some companies have and other companies dismiss. What’s your?
Golin: Well I think mission statements are fine if you really live by them on a
day-to-day basis. There’s too many companies that come up with a lofty mission statement and they’ll put it on t heir web site. Or maybe once or they’ll have a little booklet on it and but if that’s the way it is, t hen I think it’s meaningless. I think you have to live by the mission statement on a day to day basis and be constantly reminded of it. And make it as practical as possible on something that really is part and parcel of your culture because otherwise I think it’s just a feel good thing for a few people and it’s meaningless.
Interviewer: Do you have an ethics-training program for your people or indoctrination for the people within your organization or something that would be similar to that to get all the players on the same page?
Golin: Well we do that when new people who start with us get a booklet about that and they are shown certain videos and certain obviously the web site we constantly try to reinforce that sort of thing. So we do talk a lot about it and we have a strong intern program that we’ve had for quite a few years in all of our offices. Where we hire a good number of people out of that intern program. And they come from all walks of life. They don’t they are not necessarily the traditional kinds of students so we look for people who are really interested in this or certain people who might want a career change. We had a couple lawyers and a couple of accountants who wanted to get into this business and they’ve turned into a pretty good practitioner.