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2016 Communications and PR Hiring Predictions

Are you looking to climb ahead of the competition this year? Wondering what your hiring strategy should look like? We asked our consultants for their Communications, Public Affairs and PR hiring predictions and what they saw as major trends that will affect the industry in 2016. Communications, PA & PR Overview Communications teams operating in silos are a thing of the past, and it looks like integration is the future. If you work in corporate communications, public relations, or public affairs today, you likely have had experience running an integrated team. In 2016, integration and collaboration across teams will be a big priority – not just for communications teams but for marketing teams as well. The key will be ensuring your employees know your business, understand the wider objectives and are able to work interdepartmentally. Attributes you should look for when hiring employees for integrated teams include flexibility, an eagerness to learn, good teamwork skills, creative thinking, and proactivity. You can train your employees on your business objectives and team dynamics, and skill them up, but these attributes cannot be taught so hiring right is essential. Technology PR Tech firms in the UK secured almost £1.9 billion in venture capital financing over the course of 2015, 10 times the figure of 2010. And with a 92% increase in new digital companies in London over the past four years, London is becoming the FinTech capital of the world.

  • Consumer-Led Press. Technology companies are recognising that good press – especially consumer led – can be one of the biggest drivers in growing your business. Therefore we predict a surge in demand for marketing and social talent, especially as recently invested companies look to deploy their talent.
  • FinTech: With 90% of digital technology companies expecting revenue to grow in 2016, clients must recognise the importance of PR to ensure the right messaging, network, and funding is reaching their business. Clients will be looking to hire PR professionals who are resilient, entrepreneurial, and have a strong understanding of the market. We expect an increase in demand for Tech PR roles in 2016.
  • Culture. Technology businesses with great cultures will flourish, which means flexible working conditions with training and development opportunities. We see innovative and agile businesses being the most competitive in terms of securing and retaining talent.

Corporate Communications Due to today’s social media-driven, stakeholder-empowered environment, corporate comms is increasingly all about change management. In order to survive, a new mind-set is essential to engage and succeed, and companies will need to rethink the role of corporate comms in order to thrive.

  • Increasing Pace. The speed required to manage and respond to modern day issues as complex and diverse as the likes of VW, TalkTalk and Malaysian Airlines demands a mind-set that values communications as a core competency, and makes it everybody's job, well beyond the C-suite. This evolution must start by engaging employees, who are already communicating about their employers on their own. The impact of our 24/7 focus on obtaining information in real-time, and using mobile and smartphones, digital tools and social networks to communicate, is changing the world—and the workplace.
  • Employee Engagement. 2015 was a growth year for employee engagement, with organisations being more proactive about their internal message management. There was a clear shift towards companies recognising that employees are more important today than ever before, as their ability to interact with each other, customers, prospects, media and the general public, increases with each technological development. In turn this has had a huge impact on the role of Public Relations and the scope and breadth of the PR agency offering.
  • Internal as Important as External. Gone are the days when PR’s were too blinkered by the need to engage with external stakeholders and secure vast amounts of positive media coverage, that they forgot the importance of engaging internally. In 2016 and beyond, internal will be just as important as external - all hail the employee!

Public Affairs Salaries have remained relatively stagnant from the previous year notwithstanding the industry and agencies seeing a general increase in revenues of between 10%-30% on 2014, a trend which many think is set to continue well into 2016. This may be translated as agencies still feeling a little cautious because the first half of the year in the run up to the election contained a lot of political uncertainty.

  • Salary Increases. As client briefs start to come in more consistently and the demand for talent to service these accounts increases, so will the competition for talent, which invariably will drive up salaries. I anticipate an increase in salaries of circa 5%-10% up on last year, in the first half of 2016.
  • Integration. We will see further integration of campaigns and ways of working within public affairs. Clients should be looking for professionals with a broad skill set who can work across teams and understand the wider business objectives.

Consumer PR Big steps were made in 2015 with agencies changing their whole framework to that of an advertising model, and more agencies globally will follow suit in 2016. The lines between advertising and PR are continuing to blur. As in other markets, integration will be the key.

  • New Talent. PR agencies must adapt and ensure they are bringing in new talent to diversify their offering and push creative boundaries.
  • Personalisation will become even more prevalent, building experiences through creative, digital storytelling unique to the consumer. Content producers and digital production skills will be in demand.
  • Insights. It’s more important than ever for consumer PR agencies to invest in tools and talent that will help them understand target audiences. There will be an increasing need for digital marketing professionals with experience in data and analytics.

Read our Digital, Branding, and Healthcare hiring predictions. Need help? If you need help with your 2016 hiring and retention strategy, don’t hesitate to contact us for a confidential discussion. Our consultants are specialist, industry- savvy professionals who know their fields inside-out. We can help you identify what and who you need, and we have the contacts to source the best-fitting candidates.

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Author: Alice Weightman

As Founder and CEO, Alice established Hanson Search in 2002 and has since gained a reputation as one of the leading search professionals in senior appointments across communications, developing an incredible network globally.

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