Media Has a Systemic Talent Issue

Part 1: Thoughts from the CMA’s Media Council

Talent in media needs to be different and adaptable. We are at the centre of the most investment for marketing dollars, yet the talent we are attracting isn’t aligned to that level of business and trusted-advisor acumen needed.

The CMA Media Council had a roundtable discussion of how educators, agencies and leaders in marketing need to understand the systemic talent issue in our industry and the role we all need to play to address it.  With all the turmoil and changes in our industry, it is clear that media requires different talent than it did 10 years ago. The council identified seven key areas that educators and agency leaders need to focus on.

This blog focuses on the first three areas:

  1. Consider and invest in the talent we will need
  2. Grow business-minds
  3. Stop the churn

1. Consider and invest in the talent we will need

There are exciting shifts in the education system, especially in Toronto, that allow access to programs taught by marketing leaders. Yet, the mainstay schools and agency leaders are not collaborating enough to foster the talent that the industry needs, especially media.

Two key challenges are:

  • Finding the right professors to use a more holistic approach for teaching media and marketing.
  • There is a prevailing traditional and creative-only mindset as teachers have not had to morph and adapt.

Solution: It is time for agency leaders to express to educators what skills we will need in five years, and to commit to helping them shape better media curricula. 

2. Grow business-minds

The industry has created the need for a lot of specialists that are focused on ad ops or performance marketing but they are not considering the bigger picture of brand and business. There is a general lack of overarching business and strategy knowledge in our space.

Most individuals don’t understand how or what a media investment does to move a business and a brand. The challenge does not rest solely with schools: agencies have a role to play in exposing people to more and training them. Agencies need to start investing in training and development and clients need to ask how agencies are upgrading skills.

Solution: Start to train all staff to be strategic, from reading a client’s annual report to having deep dive sessions around how the client’s business operates. We need brilliant basics of being media agonistic and human centered.

3. Stop the Churn

Agency culture is designed top down. Media agency leaders are setting the tone for how people should approach a client’s business and succeed in our industry. Media agencies need to foster a culture that allows for bringing new ideas, giving people new opportunities and collaboration across disciplines. Agencies have over-pivoted to focus on the day-to-day of talent and not addressed how they will foster careers in media.

The Council sees the major barriers in our industry as:

  • Competitive salaries: Junior talent often leave for small financial increments in order to keep up with the cost of living. And this is created by the systematic challenge in media agencies where people must acquire experience by bouncing around rather than have a talent plan in place at the first place they start.
  • Not attracting the best in marketing minds: There is a general lack of awareness in traditional university programs of the opportunities that exist in media, and the type of work we do.

Today, the junior talent churns from agency to agency to acquire new skills and better salaries.

And yet, the industry needs more diversification of skill sets to attract and excite talent, and to have more opportunity for cross-team pollination, such as encouraging sitting in on client meetings and connecting with marketers.

Solution: Agencies and marketing programs need to ensure that they invest in having talent understand the bigger picture of the business and that they dedicate time to teaching them.

Visit the CMA blog next week to read about the Council’s views on items 4-7

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