SPECTRA Plus 2021: Ensuring the talent edge through innovation – Why are younger firms more attractive

Unique talent has the advantage of increasing business performance. It contributes to an organisation’s continuous growth and also has the ability to meet changing business scenario with expertise. Innovation is crucial in today’s fast-paced digital economy, for both attracting new talent and retaining existing talent for sustainable success. So, what must organisations do to attract superior talent and get set on the right course to innovate and thrive?

“Ensuring the talent edge through innovation – Why are younger firms more attractive?” was the topic discussed which was moderated by Carson Dalton, Coca-Cola. The panelists included – Aakanksha Gupta, The Other Circle, Bushra Ismail, Confiance, Hemant Batra, Veritas PR and Sandeep Rao, One Source.

The edge that younger PR firms have

Rewriting the playbook is what was happening – the communication game was getting overhauled and super-specialty models of the PR business were emerging as success stories.

What is the edge that younger PR firms have, asked Carson and the young leaders gathered there had many answers. One of the key factors is agility, said Sandeep which means to be agile enough to suit all the needs and also to be that single window to clients. “Look at the way the pandemic has changed the dynamics of PR firms,” observed Aakanksha and added that PR is young in India – it’s 50 years old!  One of the top things we add as a young PR firm is value and we are able to bring perspective to the TG (young millennials & Gen Z)!

Today, we lack patience and younger firms shine because they offer shorter cycles, noted Bushra and went on say that “The work starts at Ground Zero. We really match speed. We are willing to question the rules, turn them around, bend them over, and use them ethically of course, to match what we give as a firm,” she explained. “If a younger firm tries to get into everything it’s doomed, because services are limited. You can bring your edge and it’s always collaborative,” was Hemant’s point of view.

How different are offerings of younger firms? 

What are the set of services that new firms are offering clients – like sustainability, ESG, policy & regulatory, market access and so on? “My experience is the opposite”, detailed Aakanksha – “I think we need to look at it as Project Managers rather than a PR firm; and we enter the project as partners!” One skill that younger firms excel in, is crisis communication – was her strong feeling and they were involved in internal communication, go-to-market strategies, launches, content marketing, non-traditional media buying and building communities. “I do believe young firms are young and like to stay small by design, and specialisation is key,” said Bushra and spoke about their special skills. They specialised in brand building for businesses that have not been in the news – for good or bad; they bring start-ups to a certain level and level them up with competition and, since they have clients in aviation and beauty business, handling crisis has become a default area of specialisation.

Attractiveness of small firms

What is the attractiveness of small firms? Is this a trend with the rise if the ‘gig economy’ as Carson put it?  As a founder of a fast-growing small firm, Sandeep said – “We believe in co-operation over collaboration, and that’s how we will progress. What I see lasting is boutique firms that cause business impact, and 80% of talent (all below 35 years), is looking out to make a difference”.

Borrowing from Maslow’s Theory of Motivation, Hemant explained that people at the lower end of the pyramid will be attracted to join larger firms as security is most important, and those who are in the ‘love and belonging’ and ‘self esteem’ band, will go to high-growth companies or start-ups which are more dynamic.

Democatisation of talent

Most importantly, is there a democratisation of talent happening?  Today the choice is clear. If you want to grow, people want to work with younger firms, where credit is given  where it’s due and, not because there is a hierarchy to follow and managers to please (as it happens in larger firms), according to Bushra. Focused on culture, Aakanksha’s firm has people from all backgrounds, as long as they fit into the company’s scheme of things; and she finds it advantageous to hire people from non-PR backgrounds and, significantly as far as learnings  go, they learn “down-up”!

Training comes into the picture too, as far as talent nurturing and retention is concerned.  Encouraging people to fast track growth, Hemant revealed and added that their internal process of training and promotion is clear-cut. Sandeep was firm in admitting that 30% of their cost-load is in ‘live’ training, while Aakanksha remarked that they give the team constructive feedback so that they build their careers better, to which Bushra added saying that they also believe in giving positive feedback and this works!

How did they attract talent? Hiring happened through digital conversations, which they use extensively, stated Aakanksha. Looking at people through three lenses, was Sandeep’s solution that led to team success and growth – presence of integrity, absence of ego and willingness to learn.

Finally, it was Bushra’s comment that signed off the discussion – “We’re not hungry for more business. What has worked wonderfully for us is personal brand building and word-of-mouth!”

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

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Shree Lahiri
Shree is the Senior Editor at Reputation Today and hopes to move from one focus area to another in the editions that will be released this year. Having worked in Corporate Communications teams, she has experience of advertising, public relations, investor and employee communications, after which she moved to the other side – journalism. She enjoys writing and believes the power of the pen is indeed mighty. Covering the entertainment beat and the media business, she has been involved in a wide range of activities that have thrown open storytelling opportunities.

She can be reached at: @shree_la on twitter

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