What education are PR firms looking for in new recruits?

Kerri Birtch poses the question on the Canadian Council of Public Relations Firms Weblog, “What level of of education is necessary or valued in the PR industry?”

Personally, I look for people who have at least an Honours BA. If the candidate possesses a graduate degree, I’ll spend extra time talking with her about her studies and what she drew from the experience of gaining a graduate degree. What I am looking for in this is the “extra spark” of insight, self awareness and maturity of thought.

How about a PR certificate? This can give an edge to one of two otherwise equal candidates because it gives me some assurance that the entry level prospect has been exposed to the mechanics of PR.

But more than anything, I’m looking for analytic and problem solving skills. PR consultants s must be able to listen to our clients, draw out relevant facts and assemble them in a coherent assessment and proposed solution. The outstanding consultant will draw on a set of PR tools. But she will also not be restricted by them. She will have a broader exposure to communication, sociology, and business that will enable her to find an effective solution to a problem.

That’s what I look for. How about you? What do you look for in a new hire for a public relations job?