PR groups look outside to alleviate staffing crunch

NEW YORK: As the agency staffing crunch nears epidemic levels, industry groups are readying a three-pronged effort to recruit mid-career executives from other professions.

NEW YORK: As the agency staffing crunch nears epidemic levels, industry groups are readying a three-pronged effort to recruit mid-career executives from other professions.

NEW YORK: As the agency staffing crunch nears epidemic levels,

industry groups are readying a three-pronged effort to recruit

mid-career executives from other professions.



A loose-knit group of Chicago agencies, working with the Council of

Public Relations Firms, is devising a plan to reach people in the

healthcare, hi-tech and general management ranks. The council has also

created a personality assessment test to judge whether potential

candidates would make good PR pros, while the PRSA’s Counselors Academy

is creating a five-hour online training program for new recruits to the

profession.



The efforts are designed not only to attract more people to PR, but to

attract people who can handle the increasingly complex nature of the

business, according to CPRF prexy Jack Bergen. ’The industry needs

different kinds of people,’ he said. Added Lynn Casey, chair-elect of

the Counselors Academy, ’We have to look beyond the traditional PR arena

for new talent.’



In Chicago, an informal group of firms - dubbed the ’Chow and Gab

Society’ - have been meeting regularly to discuss management issues.

Wanting to address the staffing crisis, the group invited Bergen to

assist in developing a plan to find top outside-the-profession

candidates, according to HLB Communications president and group member

Kathy Baughman.



The group hopes to have its plans ready in June and will share them with

the council and firms across the country. Bergen said the council is

investing dollars 15,000 in developing the training program and could

spend in the neighborhood of dollars 30,000 to host recruitment meetings

for potential new hires.



In January, the council hired a San Francisco company, Empowerment

Concepts, to construct an assessment test to determine whether would-be

pros have the necessary qualities to succeed in PR. The council plans to

make the test, designed by analyzing high achievers in the business,

available to its member firms on CD-ROM for dollars 125 per test, Bergen

said. The money will go to Empowerment Concepts, which developed the

assessment for free in expectation of future fees.



’We’re really going to encourage the industry to use it,’ Bergen

said.



Casey hopes to have the counselor academy’s online training program,

which will likely cover industry basics, up and running by the fall.

’It’s designed to quickly acclimate a mid-level hire with a

non-traditional background to agency life,’ she explained.



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