Media Has a Systemic Talent Issue

Part 2: Thoughts from the CMA’s Media Council

This is the second of two articles that summarize the CMA Media Council’s discussion about how to address the systemic talent issue that media marketers are facing. To review the first article, click here.

The Media Council identified seven key areas that educators and agency leaders need to focus on:

  1. Consider and invest in the talent we will need
  2. Grow business-minds
  3. Stop the churn
  4. Give people opportunity
  5. Develop soft skills
  6. Include don’t exclude
  7. Be available

Today’s article focuses on areas 4-7.

4. Give People Opportunity

In media, junior staff are focused on admin and other priorities, so moving some of that admin level work off junior staff can help alleviate that pressure point and allow for a focus on building these skill sets through exposure to clients for example. It is important for junior media talent to understand the fundamentals but there are opportunities coming for automation and new ways of working that will help with this situation – but it is not coming fast enough.

Solution: Agencies need to have a path designed for career development for high potential employees.

5. Develop Soft Skills

With each new talent generation there is a lack of confidence, communication and conversational skills. Talent entering this industry need to find means to acquire these skills to be able to manage the interpersonal dynamics of an agency and a client relationship. And agencies, need to see that the gaps in good talent require an investment.

Solution: Educators and agencies need to have a soft-skills development program in place.

6. Include don’t Exclude

Hiring principles, especially merit is important, but we need to challenge the traditional power structure and what we assume is the talent we need. Our industry needs different talent and often the resume doesn’t tell the story of how a person thinks or how they approach a problem. If we want the best talent, we need to be more open-minded.

We need to create more safe spaces for work that has inclusion and celebrates difference as this will continue to drive our industry forward and reflect our society.  As such, we need more bias training for everyone especially those that hold privilege in agencies and client side.  Various educational backgrounds, like commerce, could add tremendous value because media can be taught in the role. We cannot teach analytic, creative and rational thinking in our industry.

Solution: Look at all the education and talent a person will bring to the role. And explore perspectives from different worlds. Don’t hire the same.

7. Be Available

The best place for any person to break into the industry starts with who you know. But what if you don’t know anyone. We believe that marketing schools and agencies need stronger referral program that go beyond the HR departments. If leaders in agencies want better talent, they need to invest time and energy into the schools they hire from.

One of the barriers is that the application pools are so big and messy in our industry. In fact, you can get as many as 400 applications for one role. Those applications can come from around the world. We recommend leaders to step in and take the time to review resumes to find unique skills and diversity of experience. 

Solution: Talent is the most valuable asset to any agency. Read all the resumes. And challenge your own bias.

The challenges in talent in our industry are systemic and only those organizations and agencies that start to approach it differently will reap the rewards.


Prepared by the CMA Media Council.

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