It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that with the coming change of power in DC, there are likely to be some job shifts happening. With many of the PR and communications jobs currently filled by people who’ve gained a vast amount of experience in one of the largest corporations in the world, the U.S. Government, many of them for eight years under the Obama administration, the pool of possibilities is full.
Transition from one administration to another is a bit bumpy sometimes as positions empty, the experts filling them knowing they’ll become persona non grata within a month or so. Most, if they get a good offer, don’t see the point in waiting to shift position until the last minute; and who can blame them? So the hirings from corporations and PR agencies have begun. It’s happened plenty of times before.
Previous political figures already in top-level corporate America include Robert Gibbs, the head of global communications for McDonald’s and previously press secretary for the Obama administration, Jay Carney, Amazon’s senior VP of corporate affairs was also a former Obama press secretary, and Dan Bartlett, who was once one of President George W. Bush’s top aides and now is an executive VP of corporate affairs at WalMart.
During Thanksgiving week, Hilton Worldwide hired Katie Beirne Fallon as their new senior VP of global affairs. Fallon had been a senior advisor and director of legislative affairs for President Obama. The national political sphere gives those in such positions the opportunity to learn and grow quickly on a grand stage. The lessons learned in such situations and under sometimes massive levels of stress can be like going through the refiner’s fire. Some of the skills they offer and that corporate communications people need are:
Not just politics as in Democrat or Republican, but human and “office” politics. Working as a Congressional or White House aide means knowing who currently holds power, how it’s used, and how the person in charge feels about it. It’s also about how to stay on top of the game when there are many “moving parts.” In large corporations like McDonald’s or WalMart, knowing who to defer to and who to delay translates to job security and helping the company soar.
Keeping the Company as a Top Priority
Many high-level political workers have spent years working 12-hour days for seven days a week at times. Personal and family time get sacrificed in the process and sometimes it’s as much about stamina as any other trait. Though a “cushy” corporate job won’t usually require quite the same level of diligence, corporations hiring for similar positions know that hiring such a person means when the odd crisis or new product launch happens, these leaders won’t even bat an eyelash at doing what needs to be done.
Political workers often end up dealing with people from all approaches, conservative, liberal, other cultures, blue-collar workers, and society’s elite. Transitioning frequently from one group to another makes these leaders “politicians” in the office, juggling a variety of approaches and agendas. They bring open and broad thinking to the table.
Fast and Mobile
Political communicators often find themselves on the road, the campaign trail, or going with their leader for speaking engagements, or in other countries for negotiating agreements. They are used to picking up and going at barely a moment’s notice. They also learn how to make decisions quickly, multitask, and shift from one project to another seamlessly.
So for people who want a corporate communications job in the big leagues, or the big leagues of a particular community, consider spending some time in a political position working on the communications team; it might just be the stepping stone that’s needed.