Thoughts on the ICCO Summit 2013 in Paris by Jamie McLaughlin


The great venues, food and attendees were all complemented by the excellent insight and commentary on show throughout the two days. As ICCOs recruitment partner, I was one of 5 industry ‘specialists’ tasked with discussing, ‘Recruiting Differently: Attracting and Retaining the Talent of the Future’ – a topic I was relived to know more about than some of the others debated throughout the day. The panel, made up of Ben Smith (PR Moment), Karen van Bergen (Porter Novelli), Annabelle Warren (Primary PR) and Alison Clarke (Grayling) shared the same broad feeling that employers in PR & Comms must widen the candidate pool, recruit smarter and more efficiently and react to the changing nature of the workforce. At times there was a fight for the microphone and I think we could have gone all day. Widening the candidate pool was a theme that came up throughout the panel. If employers continue to go after the same talent then they are merely fighting over the same skill sets and it has many negative connotations, especially when PR Agencies attempt to hold on to staff. It inflates salaries and forces employers to promote individuals without merit. Hiring from the traditional sources and therefore similar people can also limit the opinions, insights and creativity employees will bring and as result the service provided to clients. It was also agreed that unpaid internships favour certain socio-economic groups and entry level salaries must improve to be able to compete with likes of law firms and management consultancies. The impact and challenges of the changing workforce was also highlighted. As generation X moves up the career ladder, taking the reigns of PR agencies, whilst generation Y are now the bulk of employees. The latch-key X and the Peter Pan Y have vastly differing outlooks and employers must be aware of this. Increasingly generation Y are less inspired by the traditional methods we normally draw upon, namely financial rewards. Responsibility based recognition has become very important – giving an employee greater scope in their remit can have far more impact. Offering a member of staff the chance to chair a committees or an increased budget can be far more powerful and cost effective. Being a non-PR Practioner, it was interesting to observe the majority of attendees in agreement of the steps that need to be taken for PR to move forward and it’s actual value realised – although their seemed to be few ‘louder’ dissenting voices on Twitter than in the venue! It was a far more collegiate gathering than the normally partisan awards events. This might have been the focus on talk and less on booze!  
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About Capstone Hill Search Ltd Capstone Hill Search Ltd is a specialist search and selection consultancy, founded and led by Public Relations and recruitment industry experts. Their belief is that the public relations and communications industry is highly specialised and requires significant industry knowledge and contacts in order to be supported efficiently in respect of search and selection. They service the PR and Communications industry in the UK, Asia, Australia, North America and the Middle East.
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