Nurturing Talent In The PR Industry


I was really pleased to judge the PR Week 30 under 30 this week and very happy that FH had two winners – the amazing Liz Mercer in our Tech team and Chris Onderstall from the Creative Strategy group.  Both are amazing talents and were up against some very impressive competition from across the sector.  Nurturing young talent is a real challenge for all of us in the PR agency sector and our current crop at FH are exceptionally strong.  All of this got me thinking about what I really value in young talent – perhaps all talent – in our industry.

For me there are three major things.  The first is self-starting capability.  We can provide all the training in the world (and we do!) but it is very difficult to teach people how to be entrepreneurial, to take decisions, to have initiative and to act rather than to be told what to do.  Across all the agencies I have worked with, there is a consistent truth that the people who take initiative are the ones that are successful.

The second area is curiosity.  We live in an overloaded world in terms of information but we seem at the same time to be valuing curiosity less and less as a virtue.  Clients want us to really understand them and their businesses.  The stakeholders we are trying to reach need content that is well thought through.  Our success is nearly always down to our account teams learning and being passionate about what they do.  If you are not curious about what is going on in the world then I suggest a career in communications is not for you.

The final value that really strikes home for me comes from my favorite Woody Allen quote – that 80 per cent of the secret of success is turning up.  Great consultants and PR people do what they say they are going to do.  They follow up, they deliver on time, they don’t bullshit and they certainly don’t let their colleagues down.  I am so proud of Chris and Liz and all the great work they do.  But they also adhere to each of those values – all the time.