Do you value your account execs and juniors the amount you should?
If you are in a senior position and you don’t believe you’re at one of the best agencies, you’re in the wrong place. Therefore, the execs you are training, you should also believe are training with the best knowledge. You are embedding them with the principles and work ethics that are your core values. You are giving them attitude. And it’s this attitude which is what they will carry for the rest of career.
Anyone can be taught new media and how to work with it. But the attitude that you learn when you first start working tends to be the one that sticks with you for your career (I’m not saying you can't change it at all but the shift is harder).
So once you have invested in training graduates fresh from uni, do you want the execs with your key values to leave and work for another firm? Not only have you invested time into these guys, but with your core values instilled in them but they are now primed to be brilliant future leaders of your firm.
But if you don’t value them, they will leave, taking these values and knowledge straight to your competitors. But like so many things in this industry, it doesn’t need to be this way. Here are some tips on how to treat and keep your best execs:
Care, don’t just say you care
To get the best make your company attractive. And it’s all about actions, not words. Don’t worry if you are not super rich or a London agency, a little goes far, it just needs to be sincere. Agencies love to talk about the big stuff they do that people benefit from once or twice a year, we’re in PR, it’s ingrained! But it’s the day to day/week to week gestures that mean a lot more. Free alcohol on Fridays and free fruit are common, so you need to go deeper than that, literally free lunches, massages and exercise classes (with time to enjoy them) will create more of a warm fuzzy feeling.
Listen to their ideas
Most people come into PR as they love the creativity and idea generation involved in the industry and they will bring a fresh perspective on everything. Yes, their ideas will probably need refining but they will learn that. By encouraging their raw ideas and creativity, they will not only feel valued but you’ll soon spot some diamonds in the rough and it may not be the shiny-haired bubbly girls or the guys who can talk the talk that you first noticed.
Don’t listen in on their pitches
Let them find their feet with pitching. There may be lots of tools helping automate parts of a PR role but nothing will automate relationship building. And this needs to come from the heart. Everyone needs to find their own style and they'll find it a lot quicker if each phone call isn’t scrutinised.
Respect their time
Just because as an exec you were expected to work 16 hour days, this doesn’t need to be passed on to today’s execs. It’s not a fraternity initiation process. If you free up their time the can absorb the latest trends and keep your organisation current. It’s also easier to free up time in PR as there’s so much new software making the lives of execs easy (Coveragebook is just one of them). As well as ideas, the newest generation of PRs are graduating with better knowledge of fresh tools and can easily get to grips with new ones, so encourage them to highlight beneficial time-saving tools.
Set a good example
Your time is precious, we get it. But so is theirs. What you decide to spend precious time on is your call. If it’s only on meetings with clients and MDs then that’s what will seem important. If you place importance on you exec relationships right then your job will be much easier in the long run. So if you have a meeting with them, keep it, whether it is a one-off or a regular check in. If you need to cancel it, do so with as much warning as possible and only with a valid excuse (I’m busy simply isn’t good enough).
All of this is no more than common sense but in the fast paced world of PR, execs are often overlooked and pushed to the side in favour of jumping to a client’s latest demand or the dazzle of a new business pitch.
Just don’t implement it all too late - they are the future, make sure the good ones are your future.