I t wasn’t supposed to happen like this. I finished university as the guitarist in a soon to be famous band. Music stardom seemed but a small step away. What else should one do with an English degree anyway? I certainly wasn’t supposed to get sacked by the band. Good clothes, nice guitar… hopeless guitarist.
So when a friend offered a couple of weeks’ paid work in a PR agency, what could I say, other than… how much and what’s PR?
Almost 20 years later and the industry I fell into has undergone a dramatic shift on so many levels.
For a start, comms is increasingly an active career choice for the sharpest creative and strategic minds, not an accidental step or second choice. I’m constantly delighted and inspired by the quality of talent coming into the industry and the people I get to work with every day.
Career paths have radically transformed too. The business of building brands and managing reputation has become more diverse, more challenging and moves at an ever-faster pace. The linear steps of account executive to manager to director are replaced by a complex and fascinating web of career avenues and opportunities. Quite simply, as the marketing world evolves, new skills are constantly in demand across the comms spectrum.
At FleishmanHillard we’ve seen a blossoming of new roles and opportunities. Not just for new hires but for existing employees too, keen to explore new areas of specialism or an expansion of their skills.
We’ve seen creatives, planners, editors, analysts and many others all come into the business as the nature of our work shifts. We’ve seen generalists become specialist and deep experts expanding their repertoires. We’re hungry for more.
As a profession that has always required a broad mix of talents and give-it-a-go attitude, we’re professionals who enjoy an ever-expanding range of areas in which to apply ourselves
I love this. As a profession that has always required a broad mix of talents and give-it-a-
go attitude, we’re professionals who enjoy an ever-expanding range of areas in which to apply ourselves.
Develop deep expertise in a specific sector. Focus on a distinct aspect of reputation management or brand marketing. Dive deep into business strategy or audience insights. Unleash creativity and harness cultural connections. Master data and analytics. What about the art of global account management?
This matters a lot – to bring new approaches to familiar problems and constantly learn new things at every level. It matters in making our jobs fun, interesting and rewarding.
How then should we approach this vast sea of opportunity? Well, some things haven’t changed from when I started. Here’s what I look out for:
- Curiosity. That ability to engage, explore and uncover the greatest work, sometimes buried within the seemingly dullest brief.
- Passion, enthusiasm and energy. This is table stakes. Clients love it. Colleagues thrive on it.
- Great strategy matters. Being able to execute on it with skill, style and a healthy dose of humour is as important.
- Being able to think freely, believe in and articulate a point of view, whatever level you are. And have people listen.
- A collegiate spirit is essential, especially somewhere like FleishmanHillard where seamless integration across teams, specialisms and geographies is part of our DNA.
- Restlessness and a desire to grow. This really is a unique moment in time. It wasn’t always like this. Sample what’s available. Never has there been a better time to finesse existing strengths or discover new ones.
In a bizarre twist of fate, I ended up playing my first gig since university three months into my job at FleishmanHillard. If all else fails, make sure you’ve always got that guitar to hand...
Richard Kanareck is London MD at FleishmanHillard