Is media doing enough to attract talent?

Are media agencies viewed as offering a serious career option and a fun working environment, David Benady asks.

The revelation that 45 per cent of media agency staff would leave their company tomorrow if offered another job raises the question of whether the industry is doing enough to attract and retain the top talent.

The finding, revealed at the Media360 conference earlier this month, comes from research conducted by the consultancy Best Com­panies, which compiles The Sunday Times’ list of the 100 best companies to work for.

Media agencies actually performed quite well in this year’s list, with PHD at number 18, and MEC, Carat and Starcom MediaVest Group also featuring.  

But the lack of loyalty revealed by the research may reflect growing competition for people with digital and data skills from new-media businesses such as Google and Facebook. Luring graduates with technical and maths backgrounds into media agencies is tough, as they would naturally gravitate towards tech companies such as social media and search giants.

Media agencies need to work harder to get the in­dustry on the career con­sideration list of computer and maths graduates while, at the same time, ensuring their businesses are as fun and inspiring places to work as the best Silicon Valley companies.

Many graduates have little idea that the industry even exists, let alone that it offers an exciting and rewarding career. Agency bosses have been active in getting out to schools and colleges to promote the industry, though perhaps they need to do more. Many graduates seem to be more attracted to working at creative agencies, brand owners, media owners or management consultancies.

Agencies appear to be getting better at boosting staff retention. The best ones have strong and inspiring leaders and offer their employees opportunities for learning and development. They also make staff feel valued by listening to their suggestions and of­fering fun perks such as their birthdays off.

Jed Glanvill, the former Mindshare chief executive who now runs a talent agency for interim media staff, suggests that holding companies could do more to offer graduates varied roles across different types of agency.

NO Matthew Hook, managing director, Carat

"The media industry has come a long way in its attitude. Agencies are finally doing more to justify the loyalty of top talent through training, career planning and agency culture. But the pool we are drawing from is still too narrow."

MAYBE Tom Cijffers, managing director, Zenith UK

"This is the moast interesting time ever to work in media with the new opportunities at tech companies. Agencies need to attract people with skills in programmatic buying, analytics, search and data, as well as content, creativity and strategy."

NO Sally Weavers, managing director, Initiative UK

"As an industry, we haven’t done enough historically. This is an industry that’s difficult for school-leavers and graduates to navigate. It’s hard for people to understand what we do. A lot of them don’t realise this industry even exists."

NO Jed Glanvill, founding partner, Glanvill & Co (talent management agency)

"Some good media agencies are doing a great job attracting talented apprentices. Pay is a big factor for grads and, at the lower levels, media agencies do not compare well with tech companies, media owners and management consultancies."