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Last week I had the pleasure of attending the World PR Forum in Toronto.
— Rebecca (@rebeccakallsen) May 29, 2016
The event was superbly organised by the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) and had the theme of ‘Communication Across Cultures’.
I was there to record a series of interviews for the conference as part of the csuitepodcast, and first up, fresh after their presentation on The Future of PR were Arun Sudhaman, President and Editor-in-Chief of The Holmes Report and Fred Cook, CEO of GOLIN. I also got Rob Brown, current CIPR President and Managing Partner of Rule 5 to join us for the chat.
We talked through some of the highlights within the latest Global Communications Report, which, as Arun explained, explores how the PR industry is changing on both the agency and in-house side, but one of the key points raised was how the industry has a need for people with a broad range of experiences and how it needs to recruit those from different backgrounds.
Fred has a concern that PR agencies tend to recruit from other PR Agencies and In-house roles are replaced by people from other in-house roles. Off the back of this, Arun recommended that people read Fred’s book ‘Improvise: Unconventional career advice from an unlikely CEO’ about his own life experiences before settling at Golin as a good example of why the industry needs people who have different experiences and skills to simply working in PR. Fred’s view is that we need different skill sets and different types of people in the industry, i.e. great thinkers, very creative, very bold and willing to take risks, and so he is looking for people with more courage in their approach to their work.
Rob added to this by saying how PR is now in competition with other industries, for example, with lawyers when it comes to Crisis Communications or in other areas it could be that PR is in competition with Video Production companies.
Arun’s view on this area is that the PR industry has to get a lot better at selling itself as an attractive destination for people that really do have a lot of options in terms of where they can go.
On the topic of recruiting new talent, Fred talked about Golin’s ‘Unternship’ programme, which is proving a real success for them. Below is the video of Golin’s first Untern, Akinbola Richardson, which Fred showed in the presentation – it’s quite incredible.
Golin created the concept off the back of Fred’s personal background and how he built his own career, which, as he says himself, was quite unauthodox. After reading his book, the General Manager of their Dallas office said she would never have hired him in a million years, and they therefore realised it was a problem that they are always looking to hire people who fit the same mould. The unternship was their answer, and runs as a competition to find different kinds of people, and the winner gets to travel at Golin’s expense for three months all around the world, doing things they’ve never done before. Fred explained that they’ve just finished their second unternship in the US, have just chosen their first in London and are now in the process of choosing one in China. He added that they have had hundreds of entries and in fact, ended up hiring many of the applicants as interns too. He believes it has done wonders for Golin’s employer brand, creating a sense about the company that they are different from everyone else.
I’ve told my neice and my daughter to keep an eye out for future Golin Unternships!
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