I think it depends ultimately on what the team needs. In a highly technical area, I'd value industry and product knowledge highly, as long as the person is then coachable and open to learn on other areas within the PMM world. In a not so technical area, I'd prioritize PMM skillsets over other areas. Soft skills should be part of the package either way, aligned with the value of your team and company.
Ultimately the goal is to find the right balance and bring different perspectives so the team can learn from each other as well.
A lot depends on the type of role. In general hard skills is where a lot of hiring managers would edge towards as it ensures the technicality of the role can be carried out. Soft skills are also vitally important and shouldn't be ignored. For soft skills, in a cross-functional role, it's virtually important but is also an area, with the support of a good manager, can be coached and developed.
I suppose that answer varies for everyone. For me, it was simply about being more comfortable with marketing than with product management. I didn’t really know what product marketing was until a few years into my marketing career but once I got into it, I loved it. In hindsight, I don't regret it for a second. Having said that, there is obviously an overlap and each position must intimately understand the other.
The ideal candidate will have both but that’s often not possible. For me personally, I think the soft skills are far more important. Especially at the more junior and even mid-management levels, the hard skills can be taught. The soft skills are much more difficult to teach.
As an executive, you should really be proficient in both.
Messaging for me is both an art and a science. I've seen very good narrative building frameworks and courses around that can you help you nail basic concepts (e.g how to structure a well written value prop) but it needs constant practice and iteration.
As an immigrant whose first language is not English, I have also found general writing courses and workshops very helpful.
Having a culture of openness and transparency across the team. Strong support in the development and alignment with each individual PMMs career & skill development roadmap. Finally, you offer interesting and stretching projectsthat spike passions and, as a manager, give your team the guardrails to operate and then, get out of their way!
I tend to keep my communications short, sweet, and to the point while keeping the mentality of "what's in it for them" at the top of my mind. Bullet points and a TL;DR summary help with this. Make sure there is a crisp ask or offering at the end if you are hoping for a next step And as you would with anybody you work with, be respectful of their time!