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SNAVELY: I think finding the best talent with the right skill set is important. They should know what the purpose of a marketer is to either an agency or a client. So I look at our team—they’re not always wired to think about integrated marketing through the whole process. So that’s a process of internal education, as well as still finding the right people.
A traditional PR professional looks way different today than it did three years ago. Right? Thinking about nimbleness and creative development versus precision is a big shift in the skill set, as a fair amount of creative professionals are coming out with training about brand perfection. And brand perfection in video, for example, is different today than it was six months ago, let alone five years ago, in how you think about presenting your brand. And I think that evolution of skill is a big, potentially scary, but also opportunistic, thing for new talent coming in.
THOMAS: The millennials are a real wild card here, both to market to and to grow and groom into the next phase of professionals. And that’s something that definitely concerns us. One, they’re more segmented. Finding these guys is more and more difficult. Communicating with them is more and more of a challenge.
Regarding them as employees, we’re finding in many cases that they’re not willing to pay their dues. Most of the people working here in the communications industry worked for free or took several internships and then got a job at probably a lower wage than you could have in another industry and worked their way up. And a lot of these kids aren’t willing to do that. They want immediate gratification. They want a high position. They want a high salary. They’re not willing to pay their dues and it’s a real challenge.
YOUNGREN: One of the things I’ve noticed in our business in the last few years is managing the opportunity technology presents, especial social media because it’s constantly updating. It’s not about the newspaper in the morning, it’s about what’s online right now. We all know technology’s come far. We can do things today that we couldn’t even do three or four years ago in terms of I can produce a radio spot from my phone and have it in my email an hour later. And I think that’s all great. We all know it’s changed the way we do business.
But there’s a scary aspect of that speed—just because we can do things fast, sometimes I’m not sure we should be doing things as fast. A lot of the time age-old things like “did we proof it before we put it on the website” gets missed. And in dealing with younger employees, who are very much about getting information now and posting information now, I sometimes have to stop and say, “All right, everybody. Let’s take a breath here. What are we trying to say? Who are we trying to say it to? Did we spell it correctly?” It’s those kinds of challenges that I think in today’s day and age, especially if you’re working with an integrated team of traditional folks working with younger folks, you need to pay attention to. I think you always have to make sure that everybody’s remaining on message, respecting the process, keeping in mind what the end goal is.
DeNAUGHEL: More protective, but not necessarily more effective.
THOMAS: Regardless how technology changes, the fundamentals will stay the same.
Any final parting thoughts?
ROBINSON: Regarding how univer-sities are doing in terms of producing talent—I think by and large they’re doing fine. For me, and it’s just related to the most recent conversation, one of the things that we can do better is teach fundamental communication skills. So construct a logical, articulate argument, story, whatever it may be. I can’t tell you how many times the newer employees coming into the workforce can’t write. I’ll have them write a press release or a blog post, and it’s just terrible. Fundamental communication skills are so important. When I’m hiring somebody, that’s one of the most important things I look for.
THOMAS: There are a lot of great professors, but with the speed of communications today we’re finding a number of the professors just aren’t up to date in the things that they’re teaching. I believe each of us has the responsibility to get more involved with the universities, with their programs, to bring real life experience and scenarios into the classroom. And ultimately, that’s going to benefit all of us.
PARKIN: I teach undergraduate marketing for the University of Phoenix, and I’ve been doing it since the early ‘90s. And I can tell you the difference between the students of the ‘90s and the students of this day and age—to Dave’s point, they can’t write. Their writing skills have diminished dramatically. I don’t know if they’re not being taught from high school on up, but it’s a dramatic difference. I like to call it the spell check generation. If you make yourself a good writer, there will be a spot for you.