PR agency seeks talent through ‘missing’ posters


Does it ever seem like your inbox is flooded with resumes from lackluster job applicants?

One New York public relations firm is trying out an unusual approach in an effort to land a “hands-on, talented, smart, organized, and autonomous” account director to run its technology PR team.

Small Girls PR—which boasts current and past clients such as GE, Google and Meetup—has posted flyers in Brooklyn and Manhattan that read:




Mallory Blair, chief executive and co-founder of Small Girls PR, says the hardest thing about starting her own agency has been hiring. Clients and campaigns are manageable, but recruiting drives her nuts. The poster campaign is an attempt to get the attention of a different kind of applicant.

“The thing that we’re really trying to hit home is that just going through the traditional routes of trying to hire creative PR talent yields traditional candidates,” Blair says. “We’re not looking for someone who does things the same way every time. We’re looking for someone who really thinks outside the box.”

Small Girls taped up posters for the job in both Manhattan and the hip Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg, home to startups such as Kickstarter and Rap Genius. Blair followed up with pitches to a couple publications as well. (Obviously, we bit.)

Other agencies in the same boat

Small Girls is not the only agency that is recruiting in a challenging environment. The demand for top candidates is super-heated to levels not seen since 2000, says Jim Delulio, president of PR Talent.

“The perfect storm of bigger PR budgets driven by an improved economy, the growth of social and digital communications, and the arrival of truly integrated communications programming has driven demand to unprecedented levels,” Delulio says.

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Top candidates can pick and choose among suitors, and salaries and perks like unlimited vacations are on the rise, he adds. “For agencies, it’s an especially challenging time because many candidates are holding out for great in-house gigs and not jumping to the next agency job for the salary bump,” he says.

Blair agrees that a lot of experienced professionals are looking for in-house positions or even hoping to get out of PR in favor of jobs without the around-the-clock demands. Though there seems to be a surplus of people with entry-level talent, there are “diminishing supply returns” of senior positions.

As with any edgy campaign, there can be a downside. Could there be a risk of offending sensibilities when there are, after all, real people who searching for loved ones?

“We tried to be sensitive to that in the sense that we kept it light, but also serious that we are on the search for a person,” Blair says.

Small Girls’ “missing” campaign is only the latest in a series of creative recruiting efforts, including several featured by the blog seedjobs. Consider the following:

Make them sell a brick

The advertising agency OgilvyOne broadened the pool—and tested its candidates’ talent—with this challenge: Sell a brick. The company’s wry video seeks “The World’s Greatest Salesperson,” inviting applicants to sell a chunk of the fire-hardened masonry. Top contestants got to pitch at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, with the winner bagging a paid fellowship with the agency.

Make them do math

Years ago Google bought space on a Silicon Valley billboard and posed a mathematical puzzle that applicants had to solve in order to learn the URL. It was:

{first 10-digit prime found in consecutive digits e}.com

According to the Math.Random(Algorithms) blog, “The answer,, would lead to a Web page with yet another equation to solve, with still no sign of the firm that wanted to recruit some of the best math guys out there. It wasn’t known that it was Google until the puzzle was cracked.”

Math geeks were challenged to prove their abilities from the get-go if they wanted to advance as candidates.

Dare them

Speaking of challenges, how about the Royal Marines’ “What’s your limit?” ad, which may win the prize as the most claustrophobic video ever. In it a recruit runs through swamps and has to crawl through a tunnel under water. The kicker—“99.99 percent need not apply”—dares super-warrior types to see whether they have what it takes.

As for Small Girls, its campaign isn’t over yet, and posters will be appearing in other venues.

“We have some fun ideas in the work, but you’ll have to stay tuned,” Blair says.



Vintage circus posters picture kangaroos and women trapped in ice





“Circus Corty-Althoff — The Banola Family. Known as the greatest gymnasts in the world. The flying family.”

Image: The Circus Museum via Europeana

Everything now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.
Juvenal (circa A.D. 100)


“Circus Busch. Saxon, the strongest Man in the World.”

Image: The Circus Museum via Europeana

The circus, as it we think of it today, originated in Britain in 1768 by inventor Philip Astley. Astley presented shows that included horse riding tricks, acrobats, music and clowns. None of these elements were new to the British public, but Astley was the first to combine them into a single show.
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