MEDIA PERSPECTIVE: Wishing alone will not solve media’s shortage of talent

Looking back and reflecting on the year there has been one niggling concern that’s been dogging the media industry. And the trouble is, it looks like the problem is set to get worse.

Looking back and reflecting on the year there has been one niggling

concern that’s been dogging the media industry. And the trouble is, it

looks like the problem is set to get worse.

This worry is summed up in just two words: media talent. If Santa was

charitable enough to allow media grown-ups to ask for one wish, it would

be wise if they requested a never-ending pool of good media players and

strategists. Forget the new-business wins - what’s the point of winning

a multi-million pound account if you’re running dry of the talent to

service the business?

With growing media fragmentation, good planners are becoming a necessary

and even more valuable tool for agencies. No agency wants to be referred

to as a buying shop, and in order to add value and upgrade their

offering they’ve had to emphasise their smart thinking.

Look at Zenith Media: it’s the largest media agency and yet since

Rosemary Gorman’s departure in the summer, it has still not managed to

find a head of strategic planning.

But the growing web of media isn’t the only problem. There’s also the

advent of the dotcoms. This year we’ve seen high flyers such as Martina

King, managing director at TSMS, leave to run Yahoo!, Toby Constantine

and Ellis Watson from News International launch their own online venture

and the former chief executives of BSkyB (Mark Booth) and ONdigital

(Stephen Grabiner) have left to join eVentures.

But why are media johnnies so attracted to these companies?

The answer is money, the excitement of getting involved with something

from the beginning and, if it works, recognition for their own


With the lure of lucrative salaries and a stake in the company, it’s

hard to compete. There’s the rare media company such as New PHD, that

sets up satellite companies to hold on to its talent, but by and large,

media agencies still need to work at building their sex appeal. They are

becoming more influential in the whole advertising process, but somehow

are still perceived outside the industry as representing the grubby side

of it which is clearly wrong.

Unfortunately, the industry is still feeling the effects of the

recession in the early 90s. Lack of cash and foresight meant that few

invested in new talent, and so many of those agencies that now need

experienced media talent never helped grow it in the first place.

So how can agencies give their Christmas wish a helping hand? By

becoming a more attractive environment to work in financially,

physically and in terms of career development. Why not take a leaf out

of the book of dotcoms and plunder other industries for talent? Media

is, and will be, the place where it’s at, so there’s no excuse for not

building on and creating sex appeal.

Have your say at on channel 4.


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