Tuesday, 22 November 2011

A view from the City

How heart warming to see that in these times of riots, protests, countries on the brink of bankruptcy and Frankie Cocozza (!) that the PR industry has such a great wave of talent coming through. The recent PR Week 29 under 29 (11.11.11) showed off the cream of the crop and it was great to see the future stars emerging.

Whilst I am all for celebrating the achievements of these undeniably excellent young professionals, I wonder whether it actually goes far enough.

I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments Alex Sandberg, Chairman and Founder of College Hill shared in the last issue of PR Week (18.11.11), which for a number of reasons is well worth a read (including tales of him seeing Hendrix live in Covent Garden). For me, what resonated most was the passion and fire which still burns inside after all these years and the fact he is still so hungry for success for both his business and the industry as a whole. "On a good day, the best agencies are as good as any professional service because we can add huge value. Some of the planet’s best brains work in PR and I sometimes wonder whether we are proud enough of what we do," said Sandberg.

I couldn’t agree more. In my experience, comms people as a whole are an underrated breed and too often underrate themselves. Industry leaders are singing our praises and UK plc sees the value of effective communications so why don’t we?

Taking that point to the next level, should we as an industry celebrate talent (young or otherwise) across the board and shout about the best in Consumer, the best in City PR and the best in Healthcare for instance? If we are going to do it, let’s do it properly.

One of the joys of my job is that I see how many great comms professionals there are and contrary to popular belief, there are also plenty of jobs around. Whilst there is an undeniable risk aversion that continues to pervade amongst employers, there are still many agency and in-house roles which are yet to be filled and are there waiting for candidates with the requisite skills...they just might take longer deciding on the right one! I therefore maintain that whilst there will be significant challenges next year, there will be a good pipeline of opportunities out there for us all.

And don’t get me started on Cocozza!

Tim Ledeboer - Associate Director, Corporate & Financial

Thursday, 22 September 2011

AWR - Agency Worker Regulations

The Agency Worker Regulations (AWR) have caused quite a stir of late. For good or bad they come into effect on 1 October 2011 and have certainly divided opinion across the industry.

This EU directive seeks to ensure equality between those workers supplied through an agency and those recruited directly by hirers, and it seems there is little that can stop it from being implemented. Such new equality rights may seem incredulous to some during these times of economic hardship, but to gain perspective it is important to remember those people working in sectors of the economy that don’t feature in PRWeek, the Financial Times or the weekly glossies. These are the people to whom these regulations will make the most difference.

For the most part in the digital, marketing and PR industries, agency worker rates of pay are at least on a par with, and frequently superior to, those of their directly recruited comparators. Therefore with AWR being focused on the issue of equality, clients needn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater and decide not to use agency workers at all. That said, ignoring or flouting the regulations can’t lead to anything good either. The focus needs to be on working with your recruitment partners to ensure compliance and finding the best way of going forward.
At Fabric we’ve been speaking to our clients for the last few weeks to ensure that everyone is aware of the regulations and working with us towards full compliance. As part of this process, and in consultation with the REC and senior figures in employment law, we’ve put together a guide -
An Insight to AWR - which breaks down the AWR and demystifies it all. If you would like to discuss anything AWR related and see how Fabric can work with you to ensure a transition that is as smooth as possible, do get in touch.
Jody Dunn - Freelance Consultant

Thursday, 25 August 2011

On & Offline Marketing: Job Market Update

Talk about unpredictable! 2011 has been an unusual and changeable year for jobhunters in London, so it seemed a good idea to give an overview of the marketing job market as it is at the moment.
Here is what we have been seeing over the past month or so:

  • Salary levels are sluggish. I have been in marketing recruitment for many years and am usually able to accurately guess salaries. No longer! I am seeing a slight year on year decrease in some areas, particularly for broad marketing roles.
  • Large international brands appear more optimistic than our smaller clients – we have had a relatively high volume of new roles from our global clients.
  • Interesting roles = high competition. Jobhunters are cautious, so are only pursuing their ideal jobs. This is causing intense competition for the more creative and strategic client-side roles.
  • Technical skills rule! We have been able to secure significant pay rises for candidates with specialist technical skills which are in demand (yes, search marketers, I mean you....).
  • Feedback from clients is slow. Not unusual for this time of year, so don’t take it personally...
  • B2B acquisition roles (on and offline) have been our most common new role whilst we have been quieter on the brand marketing side.

Most importantly, things change week by week so it has proved difficult to predict patterns and trends. Whilst the market certainly isn’t near its 2007 peak, there are some exciting current vacancies.

If you are thinking of looking for a new role, or would like a bit more insight in to the types of roles out there, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Tom Lakin, Head of Marketing Recruitment, Fabric

Monday, 8 August 2011

When is the right time to interview?

It may appear obvious – when you are losing interest in your current role, no longer learning or dreading going in to work – it’s time to get your CV out there and start interviewing.

However, it has struck me a number of times recently whilst interviewing candidates that they have simply got the timing wrong.

Interviewing too early is common at the moment.  Here are a few questions to ask yourself: 

-          Have you really reached your potential in your current role?

-          Have you examined opportunities within your current organisation?

-          Have you achieved what you set out to achieve when you joined?

-          Are your motives to move temporary – e.g. quiet time in your sector, overworked whilst colleagues are recruited etc

Make sure your CV remains strong by not moving jobs every 12 months.  Conversely, don’t leave it too long.  I interviewed a delightful candidate some time ago – lovely, bright and great experience – but who HATED her current role.  Our conversation often came back to the negatives of her current job.   A real shame she hadn’t contacted me six months earlier. 

Worth remembering - talking badly about your current or most recent job is like going on a first date and launching in to a monologue about your charmless ex... 

A common mistake, when things are not going so well, is to write a new CV and apply for lots of jobs.  We would recommend at least attempting to address the issues in your current job before looking for a new one – you will be far more confident, be proud of your achievements and your enthusiasm will shine through. 

Is the time right for you?  If so, email me at tom.lakin@fabricrecruitment.com   

- Tom Lakin, Marketing Division

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

“My experience speaks for itself – why should I waste time on my CV?”

This is a question I have just been asked.  The gentleman in question is indeed an excellent candidate – very well-placed for a number of exciting and challenging roles.

However, even in areas where there is a skills shortage, it really does pay to step back and take an objective look at your CV.  So often, as our career progresses, we simply add a paragraph or two to our previous CV.  This can be fine, but the marketing industry evolves so fast that one is likely to need to place emphasis on different skill sets at different times and for different opportunities. 

It is easy to argue that CVs are merely a tool to secure interviews.  However, as a marketer, your CV highlights ‘brand you’ – so it deserves more than a little love! 

CVs are subjective but here are a few pointers to bear in mind:

-          Set out your CV in a structured, consistent and clear manner

-          Your CV is likely to be read on screen initially so avoid a text-heavy format which is difficult to read

-          Avoid unnecessary details (photo, religion, date of birth etc)

-          Include a brief personal statement but avoid vague comments such as “work well in a team or autonomously”

-          Use a reverse chronological order format

-          Don’t make assumptions.  It may be obvious to you that social media is a core part of your role but make sure you specify that on your CV, particularly if your CV is being initially assessed by HR

-          CVs should be 2-3 pages

-          Proof your CV, the majority of CVs include typos or inconsistencies – make sure yours doesn’t!

If you are considering a new on or offline marketing role and would like Fabric to assist with your search to find an agency or client-side role or feel that you would benefit from some career consultancy, please do get in touch. 

tom.lakin@fabricrecruitment.com   Fabric Marketing

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Freedom of Information Requests Valid via Twitter

The Information Commissioner’s Office has ruled that requests submitted via Twitter are valid FoI requests, so long as the requesters real name is available.  This could be in the Twitter ‘handle’ itself (eg in the same way that mine is @NicolaFranklin), or it would be equally valid if it were in the person’s Twitter profile page. 

The statement on the ICO website explains that an authority has a duty to check for tweets mentioning its corporate twitter account:  “...whether a request in a tweet that only refers to an authority in an @mention, for example @ICOnews, is really directed to and received by that authority. The ICO's view is that it is.  Twitter allows the authority to check for @mentions of itself, and so it has in effect received that request.”
The lesson is – if a public body has a Twitter account – check the ‘mentions’ tab frequently and ensure there is a mechanism in place to refer requests for information to your FoI team.

- Nicola Franklin

Monday, 25 July 2011

Are you deterring the best candidates?

When your firm is trying to fill a vacancy, you want to attract, interview and offer to the best possible candidate for the job.  However, one of your staff may be putting off the very people you want to hire. 

A new study by major recruitment firm Robert Walters, reported by HR Daily, shows that 45% of professionals they interviewed said that they had withdrawn from a recruitment process because they didn't like one of the people who interviewed them. 

It is vital that everyone involved with greeting your candidates, carrying out tours of the department, and doing the actual interviewing are all aware that the recruitment process is a two-way one - that the applicants are judging your organisation, the culture, the role and your staff just as much as you are judging them.

It can be heartbreaking to find the perfect person for the job, make them a good offer, only to have it turned down. 

To avoid this happening, make sure all the members of your team are ready to talk positively about the organisation, answer questions about why they work there and how they like their jobs, and promote the benefits (cultural, social and career development, as well as financial) of working there.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Is Google Plus going to rule the world?

Many blog posts and articles have already been written about Google+.  Some of these have focused on the ‘who will win, Google or Facebook’ angle, Phil Bradley argued the case for why Librarians need to get up to speed on it, while others have taken a broader viewpoint. 

One of these that I particularly liked was by Vincent Wong who uses an innovative visual presentation to argue that Google+ is in fact a tool to amalgamate everything that we do on the web into one cloud based platform – that includes tweeting, blogging, sharing, email, collaborating, documents, presentations, networking, etc, etc.
What are the implications if this is how use of Google+ develops?  How will Google generate revenue from having a large captive audience within this platform?   Should Twitter, Facebook, or even Microsoft be worried?
I don’t claim to have any answers to these questions, but I do agree with Phil that librarians everywhere, in public libraries as much as in law firms or in government, should make sure they keep a close eye on what’s happening.  There are already hundreds of librarians on there (Phil himself has almost 750 contacts in his ‘circles’ so far), so plenty of people to connect with, share with and collaborate with. 
As Mike Elgan, editor, blogger and columnist, wrote on Google+ earlier today: 

“Instead of saying, "I'm going to write a blog post now," or "I'm going to send an e-mail" or "I think I'll tweet something" you simply say what you have to say, then decide who you're going to say it to.

If you address it to "Public," it's a blog post.

If you address it to "Your Circles" it's a tweet.

If you address it to your "My Customers" Circle it's a business newsletter.

If you address it to a single person, it can be a letter to your mother.

I'd say this is pretty revolutionary.”

Monday, 18 July 2011

Exciting Announcement!

Hello everyone, I’m delighted to announce the launch of our Johannesburg office today, Monday 18th July 2011. 
Fabric has been working in the region for some time from both our UK and Dubai offices and demand grew to such an extent that we decided to have a presence on the ground.  The office will be led by an old colleague of mine, Jacqueline Rose, who returned to her home town of Johannesburg last year.  Jacqueline spent more than 10 years in creative recruitment in London and is in prime position to work with the growing agencies and brands in South Africa.
Our aim with the new office is simple.  We want to offer the candidates we represent a real choice of career, not just in one territory, but across the globe.  Careers are becoming far more international and we want to be in a position to offer true consultancy and choice.  In addition we want to offer our clients access to international as well as local talent and that can only happen by having a presence on the ground.
Like London and Dubai the Johannesburg office will offer recruitment consultancy in our core areas of PR, communications, marketing and digital.  We will be recruiting at all levels and in all the major cities of South Africa including Cape Town, Pretoria and Durban.

Our doors are open; please do feel free to get in touch:

Justin Kent - +44 (0) 20 7734 0441

Jacqueline Rose - +27 (11) 4472481

 - Justin   

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Event – SLA Europe Summer Networking Party

Last night saw the annual summer gathering of SLA Europe members, this year at the same venue the group usually uses for its Winter Warmer Quiz, the City Tavern.

We were lucky enough that all four of the Early Career Conference Award winners were with us; Chris Cooper, Ned Potter (@thewikiman), Sam Wiggins and Natalia Madjarevic.  I had an interesting conversation with Chris about the merits of using Twitter to keep up to date with the latest goings-on in the library & information field and to keep in touch with colleagues met at conferences and other events. 

I had come to the event straight from a planning meeting with Mark Field (@b00kmark) and Conrad Taylor about the De-Fragmentation project.  Several people were interested to hear about the latest developments and plans to engage the various information groups and associations to create some concrete outcomes, particularly to improve advocacy for the profession as a whole.
Sara Batts gave a short welcome speech and introduced the award winners to everyone, then it was time for the food!  It was a lovely spread, including chips and salad so you could be as wicked or healthy as you wanted... I have to admit to sneaking a few chips onto my plate!  The chocolate cake for afters was tempting as well...

- Nicola Franklin

Friday, 1 July 2011

LIKE26 Event – Information Architecture is the new Librarianship?

Yesterday evening we had the privilege to hear from Martin Belam, Lead User Experience and Information Architect at the Guardian.

As Martin started talking, I was struck by the similarity of what he was describing and the beginning of many of the interviews I’ve had with cataloguers – he was telling us about how he used to obsessively organise his record collection as a teenager.  Albums by band, within that by year, with singles from that album in front of the album, in order of release...

As he carried on, however, his career diverged sharply from that of most cataloguers I’ve met.  No library school here.  Martin went to work in his local record shop.  However his information organisation skills soon came to the fore again, as he started optimising their stock control database to fit better with the way people worked.
In his next role, at the BBC, Martin ‘did SEO (search engine optimisation) stuff before it was called that’.  He updated a massive spreadsheet with all the search terms people might/were using and the url’s of BBC web pages relating to them and sent them off to the search engines (Alta Vista, Lycos, AllTheWeb, remember those?).  Over time this list on a spreadsheet developed into a taxonomy.

Another way in which Martin’s career differed from that of many cataloguers that I’ve interviewed, is that much of his work was driven by his desire to make systems work better from the users’ perspective.  He created user profiles (one was called ‘Mandy’) to represent users knowledge, interests and skills, and did user testing to observe users trying to find things on the BBC websites.  He commented that seeing people use things that you see as really simple, and struggling with it, is a real eye-opener.
When Martin felt he’d got burned out from the pace at the BBC he left, moved to Crete (“as you do” he said) and did freelance work as an Information Architect.  You could get more work with that label, apparently, rather than ‘producer’ which was what the BBC called him.

Martin then worked for Sony in Austria (“it was interesting seeing how a Japanese firm worked in an Austrian setting”).  He said the major thing he learned there was that all the effort was being invested in producing great things for end users and customers – and none at all on internal systems.  
The Guardian then offered him a role he couldn’t turn down, and he now spends a lot of his time “imagining future web pages” and seeing if people like them.  On a more prosaic level he was also involved in rebuilding their CMS from scratch, starting with getting Software Architects and Editors together to agree a common language and standards.  He also does a lot of training and promotion for Editors, based around “Tags are Magic!”. 

All the functionality of the Guardian’s website is driven by tags.  They have 9,000 of them, and any two tags can be combined to create a new one.  Any articles tagged with a tag will automatically appear on a webpage, so a new page can be created without any manual content management  working taking place.  Anyone can create a new tag – but they have a Tag Manager to oversea this and make sure they are sensible ones!
The tags exist in a hierarchy of folders, and can have one-to-one, parent-child and one-many relationships – so its quite complex ‘under the hood’.

One type of tag that they don’t have, which he’s realised could be useful, is an ‘audience type’ set of tags.  Using this would mean they could collate and target related content towards a particular audience (eg children).
During conversations after Martin’s excellent talk, someone pointed out that the Guardian has a great mix of advanced IT systems, advanced Information Management/taxonomy, Information design/creation/publishing, all working well together, and  Martin is a great example of the ‘librarian’ of the future.  It’s both a long way from cataloguing – and at the same time, it seems to me it’s much the same.  The same skill set – organising information, classifying things seeing how users need to access information and making it available to them. 

In a reply to one of my tweets, Liz Jolly pointed me to this post as being very useful when considering the parallels between librarianship and information architecture - Liz is Director of Library and Information Services at a UK university.
It was very heartening to hear that information management skills are alive and well in such diverse organisations - the Guardian today at LIKE26, and Clifford Chance at BIALL Conference 2011.
- Nicola Franklin

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

What interview questions will I be asked?

When we contact candidates with the good news that a client has shortlisted them for an interview, after the initial pleasure often comes an email or call full of questions, or even panic.  What questions will I be asked?  Will they be competency ones?  What are competency questions?  Help!
There are innumerable questions that you could be asked in an interview; one guide that I saw in the past listed 90 different questions!  However, they tend to be grouped into questions focused on a few core areas:

·         Relating to educational achievement

·         Probing work experience and skills

·         Ascertaining personality and attitudes
In any of these areas, the questions could be competency based or not.  Competency based questions are those intended to elicit evidence that you have exhibited certain behaviours that the employer feels are important to carry out the work successfully. 

Typically the employer will have several levels of competence in mind for each behaviour;
1.       Basic understanding of the concepts in a familiar setting

2.       Ability to apply the concepts in a new setting

3.       Detailed understanding of the concepts and integration into workflow

4.       Expert understanding and application in any setting

They may have positive and negative indicators (example) in mind for each level, for each competency.
Here are some example questions (competency based ones have a (C) after them):

Relating to Education
·         What were your favourite and least favourite subjects in college/university?  Why?

·         Why did you decide to go to university?

·         If you had the opportunity to attend college/university again, what would you do differently?  Why?

·         Describe a time when you were juggling several assignments/priorities (C)

Relating to Experience and Skills
·         Describe your ideal manager / colleague / subordinate

·         What is the greatest accomplishment of your career to date?  Why did you select that one?

·         Tell me about a time you worked as part of a successful team (C)

·         What are your main responsibilities in your current role?

·         What would your last manager describe as your greatest strength?  Weakness?

·         What experience have you had that qualifies you for this job?

·         Tell me about a time when you managed a group to achieve something (C)

·         Describe a situation when you saw an opportunity to change/improve something (C)

Relating to Personality and Attitudes
·         What are your immediate and long-term career goals?

·         What are you looking for in an organisation?

·         Who would give you your best / worst reference?  Why?

·         What did you like most / least about your last job?

·         Tell me about a time when you took a risk (C)

It’s also important to remember that interviews should be a two way conversation – the interviewer will probably ask you whether you have any questions for them.  Having none at all indicates to the employer that you aren’t really interested in their organisation/job!  Make sure you prepare a long list before you go, as they will probably answer some of them during the course of the interview (use the job description and try and imagine doing the work described – lots of questions will probably spring to mind).
There is no way to rehearse answers for all the potential questions you might be asked.  Instead, prepare by working through all your skills and key experiences, matching them up to the requirements of the job description, and having several example situations to hand, ready to use in answer to whatever questions come up.  Preparation is 9/10ths   of the way to succes.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Event - BIALL Conference 2011 : Session Summaries

Following my earlier blog about the BIALL Conference, I sent out a series of Event Briefings describing the various sessions I attended in more detail.  Someone suggested that I make these available to a wider audience by linking to them from the blog - so here they are!  (nb; you will need to sign into a Google Account to view the pdf links)

BIALL Conference - First Day

BIALL Conference - Second Day

BIALL Conference - Third Day

I hope everyone, whether you managed to get to BIALL this year or not, finds them interesting and useful.

- Nicola Franklin

10 Reasons Why Exclusivity is in HR’s Best Interests

Clients may feel that an external recruiter asking for exclusivity on a job role has nothing but their own best interests at heart.  To think this is to miss the detailed picture, however, as there are many reasons why working closely with one recruiter rather than passing the role out to many agencies is the best route from an HR perspective.

While the HR recruitment team may have a number of recruiters on their PSL, each of those firms is likely to have one or two specialist areas where they really shine.  For each specific job vacancy, therefore, there is likely to be one or two agencies on the PSL who are genuinely likely to be able to source closely matched candidates.
Here are ten reasons why working closely with one of these quality recruiters on a specific job brief is actually in HR’s best interests:
1.    You are getting the recruiters full commitment to filling the vacant role.  Where a recruiter knows they are working on the role in competition with 3, 5 or unlimited number of other agencies, you are likely to see a short burst of activity from each one, followed by waning interest and a shift in their focus to another client with whom they have a close or exclusive relationship.

2.    You are putting the onus onto the recruiter to have responsibility for filling the vacancy.  Once they have been given exclusivity, with or without a retainer, they own the issue – and you can concentrate on the rest of your job.

3.    When a role is in competition, the only thing that matters is speed.  The competing recruiters know that you are logging the arrival of CVs to the minute, and that whoever gets a CV in front of you first ‘wins’.  In these scenarios a recruiter who takes time to actually brief the candidate and gain their permission for the submission of their CV loses out, so in reality it doesn’t happen.  Change the scenario to an exclusive partnership and the focus shifts at once to quality.  The recruiter has every reason to make sure that the CVs they put in front of you are for well matched, fully briefed, candidates who are sold on your company and keen to apply for that particular job.

4.    Working exclusively for you means a recruiter can bring all their resources to bear to source talent for you, including the most valuable resource of all – time.  Instead of a quick database search and putting an advert up on a job board, a thorough, detailed search including combing their networks, asking for referrals, and using social media channels.  In other words they will have time to tap into the passive talent market, not just skim off the most actively looking candidates.

5.    Exclusivity means your recruiter has time to take a detailed job brief from you.  A more detailed brief, with the background to the post, the scope of the role, the culture of the firm and the particular department/team will lead to closer matches for you.

6.    Working exclusively means your recruiter can properly screen the candidates before selecting those to put in front of you.  Not just a quick call and wiz over a CV, but in-depth face to face meetings to probe candidates’ suitability and motivations and fully brief them on the roll and sell them on your employer of choice branding.

7.    During the course of the hiring process, your recruiter will have time to gather full feedback after each interview stage, including probing for reservations, checking for other ‘irons in the fire’, and attitude towards the job, people they’ve met and the organisation itself.

8.    Your recruiter will also be able to focus on gathering realistic information on availability, potential start dates, current salary (and package) and future salary expectations, which will save you time and frustration once you come to offer stage.

9.    You will save time and repetition by dealing with just one, competent, recruiter and will be clear on the costs and contract terms you are working under for this role.
10. You will avoid the messy and time consuming issue of several recruiters referring the same candidate to you for the same role.
- Justin Kent

Monday, 20 June 2011

Event - BIALL 2011 Conference

Sage Centre, Newcastle Gateshead
Back in the office today after a very enjoyable three days spent at the BIALL Conference.  So many great sessions, two good evening social events and lots of brilliant people to catch up with!
The most memorable session for me has to be Nick Davies who gave us an excellent presentation on good presentations to engage your trainees.  He spoke on the main stage for an hour with no notes, which was impressive in itself!  Most memorable tips?  Don’t use dry facts and figures, liven it up and make it engaging for people with imagery, stories and metaphor.    For example instead of telling people that “painting the Eiffel Tower takes 60 tonnes of paint, costing £1.8m”   instead bring a pot of paint to the session and get everyone to pick it up – then tell them how many pots it will take and “...too many coats and it will fall over”.
Another great session was run by Mats Bergman, Information Architecture Manager at Clifford Chance on the taxonomy management systems they have.  Mats described how, over eight years, they have moved from “chaos” with multiple lists of terms, to a controlled vocabulary and the majority of repositories of content using their “gold standard”, centrally controlled, taxonomy.  Challenges are now being posed, however, by the firm’s introduction of Sharepoint as a platform in preparation for moving towards cloud computing services – this means they have to consider social tagging and a very different model for creating and managing a taxonomy.
Fiona Fogden gave an interesting description of how she has worked at Baker Tilly to consolidate and streamline their current awareness services.  With a small information team, the demand for more complex and tailored alerts was straining their resources, and the users themselves were suffering from information overload with 6 or 7 different alerts from different sources arriving in their inboxes.  Over the period of a year they moved to a new software supplier (Linux) and new content provider (Thomson Reuters Newsdesk), which allowed them to increase their regular tailored alerts from 35 to 180.
Several people I spoke to afterwards felt that the session by Michael Maher and Kate Stanfield at Integreon, which had been hotly anticipated, still left them with lots of questions about how outsourcing a law library service actually worked in practice.  What about hiring qualified librarians, but those who had never worked in a commercial firm?  What about graduate traineeships and sponsoring people to do their masters qualification?  What about licensing where fee-earners or remaining know how or information staff still want access to sources, as well as Integreon staff – does the firm have to pay twice?
Other really interesting sessions I managed to get to were by Sue Dowey on Customer Journey Mapping, James Mullen on using LinkedIn for more than just connections, Suzanne Wheatley on maximising your personal impact, Sweet & Maxwell on how to use scenarios to make training meaningful for legal trainees, and Penny Bailey on using enquiry workflow management systems.
- Nicola Franklin

Friday, 10 June 2011

Are PR agency salaries the same as 13 years ago?

I joined Scope Communications, now Ketchum, in 1994 and left in 1997/98.  I worked across consumer, corporate and sponsorship and when I left as a senior account manger my salary was £32k per annum.  Tim Court, now a Director at Fabric, left his senior account manager role in corporate PR in 2006 on a salary only slightly higher.

So the question is, have salaries in consultancy PR increased significantly over the years?  In our opinion - no. 

Some salary surveys have suggested that the recession has brought an end to salary inflation seen over the past decade. We have worked with the UK’s leading agencies for that entire period and the salary survey and remuneration levels we discuss with our clients have changed very little through the years.  Healthcare and financial PR salaries have increased but in a comparable way to other industries.  However the core Account Executive to Associate Director salary brackets are broadly the same as they were in 1998.  Where we have seen a real increase, but by no means an eye watering one, is in the salary of directors.  These are now far more commensurate with the role and its degree of responsibility. 

PR undoubtedly remains an attractive and rewarding career for many reasons. However there is no denying that in consultancies in particular the hours can be long, the work can be very full-on, yet the financial rewards for many aren’t compelling.

The cost of living has certainly gone up in the last 13 years so are PR consultancies still able to attract the best talent on these salary levels or are they losing out to the digital and integrated agencies? 

- Justin Kent and Tim Court

Thursday, 9 June 2011

IRMS Event – London Group Meeting on Sharepoint

Last night was an informative and enjoyable meeting of the IRMS London Group, with two speakers giving very different perspectives on the use of Sharepoint for information and records management.

James Lappin from Thinking Records kicked off and turned the traditional speaker format on its head, by having the Q&A session at the beginning.  He asked us to pair up and ask each other what issues or questions we had about Sharepoint.  We then reconvened and he gathered a number of questions from the floor:

  • What are the pros and cons of the vendors of ‘add on widgets’ for Sharepoint?
  • How does it cope with inheritance of metadata from other systems?
  • Is Sharepoint 2010 any better than earlier versions, from an RM perspective?
  • Where should you start – what should you do before you let users loose on it?
  • What level of control/governance should you aim for?
  • What sort of administrative resource do you need to run a Sharepoint implementation?

James then went onto give his presentation – the ‘Horrible history of Sharepoint’ – while weaving the answers to some of these questions into his talk.

Sharepoint has evolved over the years since its initial launch in 2001.  There have been four versions; 2001, 2003, 2007 and 2010. The first version to include any records management functionality at all was 2007, and James feels that many of the functions were not thought through very effectively.

Whilst Sharepoint 2010 has improved its RM functionality in some ways, this criticism holds true in the newer version – for example when declaring a record ‘in place’ Sharepoint will prevent users from deleting the document, or from deleting the document library the document is in, but will allow deletion of the site collection the document library is in...

Mark Field from the Department for Education then gave us an insight into government thinking regarding cloud computing, and in particular the DfE’s approach to using Sharepoint as the platform for this, but in a seamless way that is invisible to the user. 

One memorable phrase Mark used to describe the situation was that government is moving away from their initial ‘Stalin meets hippy’ approach of having one large ‘G-Cloud’ for the whole of government.  Instead they are developing several separate private clouds for various parts of government and, later on, other areas of the public sector.

They have deliberately avoided using any ‘Sharepoint language’ like ‘document library’ or ‘site collection’ or even ‘Sharepoint’ itself.  Instead they have information workspaces – and the access to create and administer one is rigorously controlled.

The strong governance they have put in place is illustrated by their process for declaring records.  A user can manually declare a document as a record, which takes them to a screen to add three pieces of metadata (content type, file and name).  If they fail to do this, then an automatic ‘sweep bot’ moves all remaining documents, which are 1 year old and v1.0 or higher, to the records centre.  Once there, if no one goes to ‘claim’ them in the meantime, after a further 1 year they are all automatically deleted without further review.  It really is a case of ‘use it or lose it’!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Next Steps in Job Hunting

Today I had the pleasure of giving a talk to the library & information studies students at UCL in London.

Talking to the students about the range of jobs where they could apply their skills, and where they could find those jobs, brought home once again the huge scope of the information profession.

Information is ubiquitous, and everywhere it is found it needs to be organised, retrieved and disseminated.  The result is information management jobs everywhere.  Roles that utilise information management skills pop up in the private, public and third sectors, in banks, law firms and in industry, in charities, institutes and societies, in government, local councils and academia – the list goes on and on.

Not only is the location of information jobs so varied, but also the content of the jobs themselves.  Once upon a time the choice for graduating students seeking their first professional post was ‘assistant librarian’ or ‘information officer’.  Today I didn’t even try to put up a representative list of job titles on the screen – the font would have had to be too small for anyone to read!

Evolving technologies has led to all the various types of ‘information work’ to both expand and to blur together and converge; the core skills gained during an information studies qualification can equally be used in information management, records management or knowledge management roles.

As a result of these changes, much of my talk focused on skills analysis and identification, searching for jobs based on the skills they call for, not on job title, and creating tailored CVs to carefully match your skills to those specified in the job description. 

During a lively Q&A at the end of the session one student asked about the impact of social media and especially LinkedIn on finding a job – did I recommend students having a profile on these sites?  I replied that both recruiters and employers make use of sites such as this, either to find people with the experience/skills that fit their vacancy or to compare with CVs and check for professional (or unprofessional!) activities.  My advice would be to definitely have a profile on a professional social networking site, and also to cast an eye over your other, more social/informal, online presence to make sure you giving an impression you’d be happy for your future employer to see.

- Nicola Franklin