Joseph Molina is a big believer in first impressions.
So when you walk in the room to interview with him for a job at JMPR Public Relations Inc., you better bring your A game.
“There is just something about people that you can just tell when there is that spark,” says Molina, founder and president of the firm that has helped launch products for more than 500 clients in 15 countries around the world. “If they’ve got it, I’ll shorten the hiring process because I want that person off the market.”
Molina’s vision more than 35 years ago was to create a virtual newsroom in reverse. Over time, he has adapted that philosophy for the digital and social media age, but he continues to be the creative force behind many of JMPR’s leading consumer campaigns.
“The key thing in this day and age for C-suite people is nobody has any time,” Molina says. “Nobody wants to waste any time. Nobody has the time to digest all the facts. It’s everybody’s responsibility to boil it down. That means everybody has to filter it down to where the C-suite has the briefing in hand and can make quick decisions based on their trust of the PR practitioner.”
The effort to find people who can work in that type of environment has always been a challenge, Molina says. It’s not made any easier by the attributes of a new generation that lives much of its life through technology.
“They don’t have a lot of contact with people,” Molina says. “A lot of their online expertise is at the expense of personal relationships. They also haven’t been schooled in the food chain of executive structure and how all the parts fit and how it affects their professional life moving forward.”
Fortunately, despite the challenges, Molina says there are occasionally people in the younger generation who teach him quite a bit.
“I love it when the clients don’t want to talk to me,” Molina says. “They want to talk to the people who work with me. That means I’ve done my job. I’ve put myself out of a job. If you want a successful agency, you don’t build it dependent on you. This is an ensemble cast. It’s not one superstar. Everybody has a role.”
Look into their soul
When Molina meets with a prospective employee, he immediately starts his evaluation.
“The first thing is you want to see how conversational and confident they are. The eye contact,” Molina says. “I also listen to the tone of their voice. Are they mumbling? Do they have confidence? Are they using their hands when they talk? Can they story tell? Can they make me interested in their lives?
“If they can do that in their first job interview, that means I can put them on a plane to do media tours and other PR functions with my client and not wonder whether they are capable of it. But they have to be wired right and that’s something that is a gift from their parents.”
Molina is fond of people who have had challenges in their past and had to fight and even struggle a bit to accomplish their goals.
“I look for those who have attended the school of hard knocks,” Molina says. “I ask them how they handle a crisis. What happened? What was the scariest moment? How did you deal with it? How did you feel? Was anybody pleased with the outcome? I like all that information. If they have that sense of mission, they’re going to be great when you put them in front of an executive. You’re selling confidence as well as knowledge.”
Molina admits he made some mistakes in the company’s early days, but has learned from his experience and uses that wisdom to make better decisions. He doesn’t expect perfection from his employees either, as long as they learn from their mistakes.
“If you’re not failing, you’re not trying,” Molina says. “We know people are going to make some mistakes. When that happens, we don’t like to hold them up or point to them. We like to say, ‘Hey, what did you learn?’ They are learning experiences. We’re very quick to tell clients that decisions are made with the best information available at the time. But it’s the human condition we’re dealing with and things change on a dime.”
Leaders who struggle with employee engagement, whether it’s during interviews or through day-to-day interactions in the office, have options to make it easier.
“Bring some food in, talk to people, laugh with them, build a sense of camaraderie,” Molina says. “Tell them about what you did when you were that age and how you came up through the ranks. Tell them something that shows the human side of you so when you ask something, they know where you’re coming from.” ●
How to reach: JMPR Public Relations Inc., (818) 992-4353 or www.jmprpublicrelations.com