OPINION: The Big Question - How can you protect your PR brand when senior staff walk out?/Recent examples of management departures at Beattie Media in Scotland and Robson Brown in Newcastle, highlight the age-old problem for PR agencies of how to hang ont

LORD MCNALLY

LORD MCNALLY



Shandwick International



’PR is like a magic roundabout. People get on and get off. Obviously, a

too rapid staff turnover is damaging for client loyalty. Salary isn’t

everything. It’s job satisfaction. Good in-house training is important

because it gives staff a feeling they are investing in themselves and

the company is investing in them. The opportunity to benefit from the

company’s success by either equity stake or generous bonus schemes,

cements staff and client loyalty. I think a career development plan,

consultancy and involvement, are essential components. Companies now

realise that staff represent client investment. But in the end, it is a

very mobile industry. It’s both a strength and a weakness.’





SIMON BROCKLEBANK-FOWLER



Cubitt Consulting



’PR brand protection is the key issue in this industry and one it has

thus far failed to address. But PR has improved over the past 15 years

and has adopted structured career programmes from other mainstream

people industries. An entrepreneurial culture with a transparent career

and pay programme is the way ahead to protect PR brand, although

spreading equity can have a downside if the wrong people own the

majority of shares. Lack of transparency and changing the ground rules

is the killing blow for many firms in terms of staff turnover and

ultimately, client loyalty. Career and pay transparency, and fairness,

are critical.’





CLIVE ARMITAGE



Bite Communications



’If you are happy to build your business and your brand off the back of

bright young entrepreneurs, then you have to accept that sometimes

they’ll leave to do their own thing. This is the flip-side of recruiting

ambitious people. Therefore, the best way to protect your brand is to go

straight back out and recruit more like minded people. But if you work

really hard at creating an environment that stimulates and rewards

staff, by constantly presenting them with new opportunities, then the

incentive to seek a fresh challenge elsewhere will be lessened. Short

term rewards are too often used as a knee-jerk, tactical way of keeping

people in the absence of a clear, ongoing view of how their career can

progress. It stands to reason that if you want staff to stick around for

a long time, they have to understand what they are going to receive in

return.’





GORDON BEATTIE



Beattie Media



’We are about to introduce a share ownership scheme across the company,

along with a very attractive company pension scheme. But the most

important element is personal development programmes for each member of

staff so they have a career plan within the company. That undoubtedly is

what matters most to maintain loyalty. People today want to know how

their careers are going to be allowed to grow. We want to attract the

best staff for our clients, and we want them to remain loyal through

career-long learning programmes. We are good at attracting good talent

because we say if you are good enough, the career rewards will be good

enough too.’



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