OPINION: Our industry is at a serious crossroads. The cost of experienced people is soaring as market forces determine what can be earned by the increasingly dwindling talent pool. This is a classic case of supply and demand.
The situation is aggravated by the fact that many senior people simply want out – the pressure and the demands of clients have made service delivery intolerable for many. And some have not been in the industry for more than a decade.
The promise of a rewarding place of employment in another industry is simply too alluring for some. At least they get an opportunity to spend more time with their families and be present as their children grow up.
So how is the industry filling up the talent well? It surely needs replenishing as people move out for whatever reason and vacancies need to be filled.
Yes, we do have the industry schools such as the AAA, Red &Yellow, Vega and others, but these schools provide candidates for the entire spectrum of the advertising and marketing process. It is sexy to become an art director or a copywriter, but just how many enter the media courses on offer? It is truly the hard yards of the process, and not that many graduates in the media discipline will make it to the bright lights of Cannes, Paris or New York.
The truth is that the media discipline has become increasingly accountable. Every investment decision is closely scrutinised and there is as much work after the campaign has appeared as there is in compiling the media proposal in the first place. And of course, virtually everyone is an expert when it comes to the media discipline, and they all seem to know better.
I am fortunate in that I have had the pleasure of working with some real marketing professionals – people who understand that their personal media preferences are not necessarily the channels of choice for the business’ target audience. They also understand that their campaigns are not created to impress their dinner party guests, family and friends. They know that their job is to sell, increase their business’s profitability and grow the brands for which they are responsible.
It is always a pleasure working with people like this and contributing towards the growth of their brands. Their briefs are comprehensive, clear and easily translated into what we as media professionals need to do for them. But they demand and expect professionalism and sound guidance and advice; not merely a repeat of what was expressed in the briefs to their media agencies.
And this is where the value of experience kicks in.
But what seems to have transpired is that because of the exodus of the seasoned few, many of the channel decisions are being made without the expertise of the experienced media professional. And this has sadly led to the steady erosion of the contribution towards the value chain.
And finally, the impact on our local industry of the multinational media groups has been substantial and should not be underestimated. The likes of WPP, IPG and Omnicom have felt the grip of the 2008/2009 economic meltdown in an acute way. As a result, these listed companies have sent out the salary freeze decree to their worldwide subsidiaries. Local managers have been given the unenviable task of informing their staff that they will not be receiving salary increases or that salary increases have been curtailed or limited to the bare minimum.
So what do these hard-pressed employees do?
Quite simple, really: they resign and look for jobs elsewhere so that they can personally deal with the ravages of inflation, education, petrol and electricity price increases. In this way, they look after their salary increases themselves.
Then the international bosses do not seem to understand the high staff turnovers, local client criticisms and low evaluation scores in the affiliates in this far-off market. And worse still, they tend to absolve themselves from any blame because they have slavishly delivered according to the quarterly demands of the international stock markets.
Does the media have a skills crisis? #MediaSkillsCrisis
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