Amith Prabhu: Where is our talent coming from?

31 Aug,2015

By Amith Prabhu


In the last few months, three firms appointed chief operating officers who neither rose from the ranks nor came from a rival PR firm. They came from outside the world of Indian PR consulting. One came from an overseas conglomerate where she headed corporate communications, the other is on his way from a business daily where he holds a fairly senior position in editorial and the third who holds a fairly differentiated designation came almost from retirement after a long stint in the corporate world. All these positions in reputed, large firms.


The story at other levels is no different where every month half a dozen journalists are joining in-house or consultancy jobs with just one or two strengths of content creation if they come from print journalism and some great contacts in the world of media most certainly. None have skills in campaign planning, strategy mapping or crisis counselling. Some learn on the job, most don’t care because the client just wants some content drafted and some journalists engaged with.


So, how is the need for 500 freshers at the entry and middle level going to be fulfilled? This is a million dollar question. Some head honchos say they hire from Tier 2 MBA schools. Unless one is fortunate, the quality of talent from Tier 2 B Schools tends to be just about average and a lot of time and energy is spent training them for the PR consulting job which requires a good mix of writing skills, brand management and marketing concepts, digital understanding and common sense.


The client base is increasing, newer PR firms are mushrooming but retainers are not changing and quality of talent is not improving. This is a real problem that needs to be addressed. CEOs of consultancies are constantly on the look for bright sparks and when they think they have found him or her and trained the person for the role the individual decides to move on. This will get interesting as the first true blue PR professionals evolve to be leaders.


Currently, most PR firm leaders are either CEOs or immigrants from other domains who moved to PR and grew into leadership roles. In couple of years there will be native PR specialist emerging as consultancy firm leaders and they will increasingly look for talent that is well-rounded and will find it hard to get the specialists. The question we need to ask then and now is where is our talent coming from and what are we doing to up the level of service across the board?


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