The Big Pitch - How can agencies alleviate the current staffing crunch and recruit top talent?

Blanc & Otus - San Francisco

Blanc & Otus - San Francisco

Blanc & Otus - San Francisco

This marketplace is clearly like nothing any of us have ever


At Blanc & Otus, we made up our minds a long time ago to focus on the

people who choose to stay. Interestingly, these folks tell us that while

salary and bonuses are very important, what they really want is an

experience that lets them counsel cool clients and do interesting,

challenging work.

The result: they expand as professionals. So, while we continue

enhancing our compensation packages through a combination of cash, stock

and other benefits (yes, we offer massages), we also focus on delivering

training and professional development programs. At the end of the day,

we want to attract people who are motivated by the opportunity to learn

and become first-rate counselors, rather than those who are motivated to

join a firm because it lets them bring their dogs to work.

Clarke Caywood - Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

The answer is ’residencies.’ For nearly 15 years at Northwestern

University’s Department of Integrated Marketing Communications, we have

placed experienced graduate students in PR and other disciplines with

agencies and companies for 11-week residencies each summer. The price of

the sponsored scholarship and support proves its value, as firms have

paid tuition and expenses (this year dollars 13,500) for these highly

motivated and trained professionals.

The projects are carefully defined with senior industry faculty to

ensure that the ’deliverables’ meet the expectations of the companies

Many agencies have been able to add the residents to their billable

team, since their experience and knowledge justify the rate.

Holland Carney - Alexander Ogilvy, San Francisco

Alleviate may be a hopeful word, but I do see clients prioritizing

current and prospective employees as a PR audience. Agencies can help by

working with top management on internal communication. At OgilvyPR and

Alexander Ogilvy, we have an offering called Workplace Performance to

address this need. More importantly, it is critical, in this boom

economy, for a brand to explicitly include the company’s identity as an

employer. In Silicon Valley, companies used to be able to get around

this with casual clothes, dogs in the office and stock options. But

these things are now commonplace, and promoting them seems superficial.

We work with companies more deeply and research the most successful

employees to find out why they are there and why they stay.

Carrie Wong - Niehaus Ryan Wong, South San Francisco, CA

We’ve started to look beyond the idea of housing all of our employees in

a single location and have instead turned to a virtual workforce


It is less expensive to find qualified people who choose to work out of

their homes part-time than it is to recruit someone from another state -

as long as you have a well-oiled machine of account pros to work with

them from a central location. Right now, about one-third of our clients

are being serviced this way. Also, we have extended our dedication to

professional and career development past just traditional PR education

and into other areas, like business management and interactive


Not only do we have internal training by NRW principals, we also bring

in outside experts for brown-bag sessions and offer online training in

business management from an independent company.

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