Jigsaw LLC

Thoughts

Keep the digital natives in the advertising industry

— Culture & Observations —

Digital talent in advertising

A few days ago Edward Boches, one of my favorite people online, and offline for that matter, published a post about the new generation of digital natives and its choice not to go into advertising. Needless to say, recruiting and retaining young digital talent is crucial for anyone in this industry (click on the link because it leads to a great article), or at least for the ones who want to stay in this business. However, I don’t see it as a problem of recruitment as much as it is a problem of reputation and retaining.

First, digital natives have heard all the horror stories about interactive in advertising agencies: disrespect, lack of creative freedom, lack of exciting projects, small budgets, unreasonable deadlines, etc.

Second, young people aren’t stupid. We know that to start our own company we need experience and connections and working in advertising is one of the best paths to both. But what happens when after a few years in the advertising industry these young people get what they need: experience and connections? How do you create the best possible experience and environment to keep them in this industry? How do you change your reputation?

As a typical and opinionated Millinnial, I’ll share a few tips on the topic (did you really expect anything else?).

Before you start hiring any interactive professionals, make sure your agency is ready for it. Don’t just hire people and give them work only when clients come in and say they want a new shiny platform or a mobile app. Hire them because you realize the value they bring and sell it every time it makes sense (and it probably makes sense in about 95% of the cases).

Don’t isolate them. Don’t put them on a small island and engage with them only when you need them to implement something. Create a truly integrated environment and involve them in more projects. Everyone in the business is talking about being integrated. Don’t just talk about it. Live it!

Try to learn the language. At least the basics. They will be willing to teach you, but you have to put in some effort too.

Understand the process. Understand how it works and what it takes to make it work. You don’t have to know everything, but learn enough to set reasonable deadlines. Learn enough to explain to clients what is happening. Learn enough to make these professionals’ work easier so they can focus on actually creating.

Treat digital talent with respect. Sadly enough, because so many people don’t understand how they work and what they do (do they even work?), digital professionals aren’t treated with respect in advertising agencies, unless we are talking about a digital agency, and who would want to work in such an environment?

Provide them with opportunities to grow and learn. Almost everyone in this industry is somewhere because he/she had a formal or informal mentor that taught them many of the things they know and use today. But what happens to digital professionals in advertising who don’t have many people to learn from, especially in smaller agencies? How do they grow? Who are their mentors? Of course the Internet comes into play, but agencies can make the process easier by using their connections to find mentorship opportunities even outside the agency. Or mentor them in areas other than digital.

And give them time to play and explore.

Young digital professionals (creatives, developers and engineers) want to go into advertising and stay here because it is an exciting field that allows them to work on different projects every day. They go into advertising for the same reason as many creative minds: to create and receive recognition for their work. But how do you expect them to stay in this industry if it hasn’t become an embracive environment where they can be understood and treated with respect?

Photo credit: X-ray Delta One

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