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Human Resources Development

Human Resources Development

The recruitment of staff for an advertising agency presents the organization with one of its biggest challenges. While some agencies prefer to attract trained and experienced people from other agencies, others recruit fresh people who they train in the agency’s best tradition.

The recruitment process varies from one agency to another. Some agencies depend on the services of consultants while others develop in-house framework for staff selection. Whichever method is employed, however, a single interview is hardly sufficient for recruitment into important positions. In some agencies, a panel interview is followed by a chat with them Chief Executive.

In some others, a consultant, an internal team of two people or just the superior executive to whom the candidate would report assesses candidates for employment before a panel is set up for the final selection.

Irrespective of the process employed by an agency, the criteria on which a candidate should be judged should be predetermined. In the advertising industry, although academic and professional qualifications are important, they play a limited role as against other criteria for judging a prospective management candidate. Generally, the following are major areas, which usually carry equal weight, on which a candidate is assessed.

1. Appearance, personality and poise

2. Diction and command of English

3. Basic education

4. Higher education/special training

5. Advertising experience

6. Judgment/Reasoning

7. Determination/Character

8. Creative ability/Imagination

9. Extra curricula activities

10. Awareness of current affairs

Staff Motivation

A good agency administrator must continuously monitor staff moral to ensure that no individual or group feels alienated. It is essential that once the right caliber of staff has been recruited, every effort should be made to keep them for as long as possible.

Competitive remuneration commensurate with levels of productivity of each staff should be paid and promptly too.

In addition, staff should enjoy adequate allowances that reflect the nature and image of advertising business. Among these are housing, transport, clothing, entertainment, hard furnishing and annual leave allowances. An end-of-year bonus or 13th month salary and pay increases based on the individual’s performance during the year should not be neglected.

Promotions are a way of rewarding hard work and serve as incentives for staff to work even harder subsequently. Similarly, only the best hands should be allowed to head departments in order that they can adequately motivate their subordinates.

Training is an important aspect of staff motivation. Every agency must therefore, endeavor to evolve a regular training program for its staff to update them on changing paradigms in the industry.

Finally, agency managers must ensure that the working environment is conducive to creative work. A reasonably well-furnished office is an effective means of giving agency staff a feeling of belonging to a modern company. Again, the right tools must be provided for the right staff to be able to provide the right services to an agency’s client.

Winning Advertising Accounts

In these days of high horse trading and manipulations in business dealings, it is becoming increasing difficult to lay down grand rules on both how to select an advertising agency and how to win and retain Clients.

Many accounts are today won not necessary because of the perceived or demonstrated capabilities of the winning agency but because of the personalities involved on either side, or bargains concluded over gratification. So, too, are many accounts lost today not because of the failings of inability of the current agency but primarily due to personnel changes, filial and other parochial considerations.

Many agencies have become rather unscrupulous in their search for accounts and resort to all manners of subterfuge, blackmail and even arm-twisting to win them. In his article on “The Changing Face of Advertising” Doghudje (The Pose Express, Tuesday, April 9, 2002), quoting from a statement by top advertising practitioners in late 1992 states

“The environment is getting murkier and murkier for the agency business. The conditions for decay were created by agencies themselves about ten years ago. The key word is hustling. Agencies hustled for every known job. In doing so, they abandoned caution. But the market had always been relatively untapped. Agencies preferred to knock each other in order to have part of what had been developed. They hardly ventured into new areas”.

On their own, many clients now tend to regard giving businesses to an agency as a favor. Contacts in such client organizations thus expect personal reciprocal rewards from such ‘favored’ account or maltreatment of the agency to force compliance. In many cases, it is the ‘highest bidder’ that gets the client contact’s recommendation to be ‘awarded’ the advertising account. According to Doghudje, in the above article;

Young marketing executives saw an early opportunity in the recklessness of agencies.  They took it. The whole murk has blossomed. Clients dictate the direction and pace of the agency business. They decide which media is used and how. They decide which contractor to use. They decide who may feature as a model and whose voice may speak a commercial.

Consequently, creativity and integrity are often compromised on both sides. Briefs to agencies, which are the basis for the development of creative advertising strategies, are often inadequate, informal and verbal.

Meanwhile, the ‘contractors’ masquerading as advertising agencies are either ill-equipped to produce the necessary strategy documents as platform for creative advertising or fail to produce them altogether, employing short cuts. This is in realization of the fact that client contacts that have been ‘bought over’ have either become incapacitated to insist on these beneficial inputs into his advertising development or is ignorant of them altogether.

Bidding for new Advertising Accounts

It is not all clients that are worth working for. In the realization of this fact, it is always advisable that a list of possible prospects be drawn up and reviewed periodically based on such consideration as; the prospect’s product or service, corporate image, advertising history, budget, requirements in relation to the agency’s capabilities and location. For instance, irrespective of a client’s advertising budget, if he has a reputation for delaying the settlement of bills, he is not worth working for. Bank interest rates soar by the day and most suppliers and media organization now insist on pre-payment.

It is therefore, not prudent for an agency to borrow or utilize its own scare financial resources to fund the business of a client who will default in the settlement of bills. Consequently, as desirable as it is to win as many new accounts as possible, it is advisable to have a good knowledge of the prospective client before pitching for his account.

It is also essential to have a thorough knowledge of the marketing / advertising problems and objectives of the prospect before pitching for a new advertising and marketing activities of the prospect and competitive products or services is also necessary. All relevant marketing information such as market size and brand share, obtained through publications etc, is useful to an agency interested in a particular client.

In the case of competitive bids, certain considerations have to be taken into account in reaching a decision on making a presentation on the invitation of the prospect. These include

1. Determine the number of agencies presenting. Some Clients are known to invite presentations from many agencies either to “tap their brains” or to give the impression of a highly competitive bid. If the number of agency invitees is rather unwieldy, it is better not to present.

2. Check to confirm that all agencies presenting have equal opportunities. If possible, negotiate a fee on a speculative pitch.

3. Ensure that the Brief from the client is good, accurate and detailed enough. Otherwise it will be necessary to clear ambiguities with the client.

4. Consider if the adequate time has been provided to prepare for a major presentation. It may be unwise to jump at an offer, which leaves o room for adequate preparation.

5. Regard every presentation as a test of the potency of the agency particularly with regards to new business pitches. Therefore, always weigh the agency’s capability to offer meaningful proposals to a given client. Most often, it is better not to make a presentation at all than to go and mess up reputation of the agency.

6. Furthermore, ensure that adequate time is provided for the presentation, which would have taken a lot of time to prepare.

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