Amybeth Hale – Research Goddess

Talent Poaching in PR
September 24, 2008, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Article Reviews, Public Relations, Recruiting, Thoughts

Yes, we all do it. We whisper in the ears of our competitors’ employees and say “Come join us…you know you want to!” And any company out there that says it doesn’t gaze with a lustful eye upon the top talent at its competitors is a liar, IMHO.

The Firm Voice came out with a great article today, Preventing People Poaching: Lateral Hiring Among Agencies—and How to Stop It. This article discusses the issue of talent poaching specifically within the PR community, citing some reasons as including “a ‘grass is greener’ mentality, high levels of burnout because it’s 24/7 and agencies thinking they can create an instant culture by taking people from other shops.”

The article lists some recommendations taken from some PR firms that are fighting this battle successfully to retain their employees:

  1. Analyze your retention rates.
  2. Hire the right people in the first place.
  3. Recognize that some poaching comes from the client side.
  4. Give your employees a clear career path.
  5. Evaluate your agency culture against common factors for high retention.
  6. Utilize protective legal measures.
  7. If all else fails, let them go.

As quoted by a couple of people in the article, there seems to be a feeling that there is a shortage of PR talent available today. However, one commenter states that there is not a shortage of talent, but rather a lack of experience. This comment came from an individual who has been trying to break into the industry but due to ‘lack of experience’ has been unsuccessful in obtaining an entry level position. Marcus Anderson, if you read this post please get in touch with me and we’ll see if we can help you 🙂

This brings up a good point – the Catch-22 of gaining industry experience. In an interview, some folks are told that they do not have enough experience. How is one supposed to gain experience in an industry if no opportunity is provided to earn said experience? Particularly in entry-level positions?

Another interesting point with the whole ‘talent shortage’ in the PR world is not that there is no talent available, it’s that we’re not looking beyond the “PR” talent pool and considering similar skillsets from other functions, such as marketing, advertising, journalism, even legal. The ‘talent pool’ has become incestuous as we continue to steal from each other. Why not look outward and consider a cross-industry hire? That might help to alleviate this talent poaching within our industry.

As a shameless plug of course for Waggener Edstrom, we are committed to the consideration of cross-industry hires within the agency, so if anyone out there in related industries has considered a career in PR, please get in touch with me.

Read the whole article here on The Firm Voice- it’s quite well-written and offers up a lot of good suggestions for employee retention.


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