Ask any senior PR practitioner what their main challenge is going to be in 2001 and you can bet that the vast majority will reply with one word: people. Mention recruitment and retention and an air of doom descends over the industry.
Which is why PRWeek will be placing a major focus on people recruitment, retention and development issues in the coming year. This week sees the first of these items, a colloborative venture with the PRCA, IPR and a specially convened panel of recruitment specialists, who were tasked with nominating the up and coming stars of the industry.
The results of this exercise prove that there are talented youngsters entering the industry. But the preponderance of agency talent dictated by the age cut-off of 30 is telling. PRWeek's salary survey 2000 revealed that the average age of an in-house press officer is 33. There are exceptions but it confirms that large and medium scale consultancies invest in graduates, only for them to take their skills to in-house departments as they become mature consultants.
This trend can only continue the brain drain. To ensure that the industry is developing the talent required to meet its full potential, chief executives need to provide in-house departments with the necessary funds and staffing levels to enable them to take the time needed to grow their own talent.
This contribution doesn't have to be massively costly in terms of time or spend; but in-house departments urgently need to understand their contribution to the talent equation and to responsibility for creating a culture of learning within their own departments and companies.