My friends and contacts in the ICT arena are often contacted from recruitment agencies asking if they would like to head a PR agency’s ICT practice.
Thank you very much they say, but, why only the ICT Practice? Why not the whole thing?
But you are very specialised the HR says.
Yes, but PR is now all about ICT (whether its social media, digital communications, SEO, Augmented Reality, etc etc) and therefore ICT specialists should be leading don’t you think?
Eh, we’ll get back to you…
And this is pretty much as far as it goes.
The message from the PR sector is clear – yes we need people to sell to our clients, but perhaps not everyone is ready to eat our own dog food.
This attitude potentially started with the creation of central media relations hubs.
Initially a PRO was individually resonsible for his media contacts and this laid down his value to the agency and to the client.
Later the agency management teams realised that their most experienced staff were better utilised consulting clients and formed specialist media units to take over the ‘low-value’ engagement work.
This has been the model for the PR industry since as far as I remember with editorial teams, translation teams and media monitoring teams – separate social media teams is the new trend.
But this has a weakness in that the high value consultants eventually lose the hard knowledge and relationships that made them so successful/valuable in the first place. In effect, all they are is another intermediary layer adding limited value to the client’s business. In my experience, a skilled in-house practitioner can easily reduce his expenses by reducing the account direction/management layer to a bare minimum and boosting the number of executives.
This same model is being replicated in social/digital media – except that the senior consultants never went through the necessary years of skill building and experience forming that they did with media.
Now by denying or limiting ICT-trained and experienced people, we are ignoring a valuable resource and instead handing the keys of the bus to people who don’t know how to drive, and in some cases, have never even sat in a motor vehicle. Many are even frightened to move faster than the minimum speed limit.
Generalists may have a better reputation as business people – but let us not forget that our first priority is to deliver a quality service. And this can only be achieved through passionate interest and intellectual capacity to understand the components and tools required to do the job.
ICT PROs to the cockpit please!