Prospect’s State of the Industry Review Roundtable

Posted by Prospect‘s Asia Pacific Team

On Wednesday, 16th March our Co-Founders Colette Brown and Emma Dale convened a group of seven esteemed PR and Communications industry leaders for a virtual roundtable discussion of Prospect’s State of the Industry Review.

For the first time in the 10 years that we’ve undertaken the annual industry analysis, this year’s Review combined trends in Asia with insights from the UK market. The roundtable panelists therefore included UK and Asia-based agency and in-house leaders: Adam Najberg, Global Head of Communications, Tencent Games, Bastian Wong, CEO and MD, Flare Communications, David Lian, MD, Asia, Growth & Innovation, Zeno Group, Delicia Tan-Seet, MD and Head of Reputation, Edelman, Kirsty Leighton, CEO, Milk & Honey, Laura Oliphant, Founder & MD, Stand Agency, and Ruth Kieran, CEO, Cirkle.

Held before a virtual audience of around 50 professionals across Asia and the UK, the engaging conversation ranged from salary trends, workplace culture and the evolving approach to hiring.

Compensation

The Review showed that compensation across the PR and Communications industry is on the rise with more than two-thirds receiving an increase in their monthly salary in 2021. However, according to the panellists, this trajectory is unlikely to continue. At same point, they anticipate that salaries will level out to better align with agency client rates. The challenge for employers is to identify a more sustainable way to compensate talent such as performance-related rewards.

Employee Happiness

Although compensation has been on the rise, this has not translated into loyalty. The Review shows 58% of people in the UK and 67% in Asia are seeking or considering changing employment in 2022. Some agency panellists noted that their biggest competitors in securing top talent are companies hiring for in-house roles. Because of this, agencies have needed to develop their employer brand to establish clear cultural expectations and values in order to facilitate employee happiness. Additionally, the relationship between employers and employees has become more holistic with leaders recognising and valuing the individual – their unique set of skills and career ambitions.

Work-life balance, which has long been a challenge particularly in Asia, has become more important than ever during the past few years of the pandemic. Without the physical separation of home and office, employers are increasingly leading by example in order to encourage greater work-life balance amongst their teams.

Hiring talent

The Review identified the ongoing challenges around securing new talent. In both Asia and the UK it is currently a candidate-driven market and traditional ways of recruitment are not as successful as they once were. Panellists shared their experiences and provided insights into how their approach to finding and securing talent has evolved.

Throughout the discussion there was widespread agreement of the benefit of building a role around individuals rather than expecting people to fit into pre-existing, pre-defined functions.

Some shared their success stories in recruiting talent from outside the industry – with banking surprisingly identified as one such sector despite the compensation discrepancy! Panellists credited the success of this approach to the identification of transferable skills, such as content development and client management, together with a commitment to teaching the core PR functions. In these cases, hiring talent from outside PR and Communications resulted in greater diversity within their teams as well as an expansion of their offerings to clients.

At the conclusion of the discussion, Colette and Emma posed questions from the audience to the panellists. One audience member asked advice on how to relocated between markets, with panellists suggesting to simply make contact and be clear about your skill-set.

Another audience member asked how to balance the skills gap with the critical requirements with panellists highlighting the importance of onboarding, developing existing talent and providing opportunities for internal promotion.

Many thanks to all who participated in the roundtable either on the panel or in the audience, and don’t forget to check out Prospect’s State of the Industry Review for more insights.