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Sara Cerutti-Payne, Head of Talent, M&C Saatchi PR

Professional development and training: where to invest?

7th August 2017

M&C Saatchi PR’s Head of Talent, Sara Cerutti-Payne, gives us the run down of the latest PRCA Council on Training and Development, hosted by our Global CEO and PRCA Chair, Molly Aldridge. Sara looks at how investing in people helps business thrive, whether its keeping senior leaders on their toes or perfecting the perfect media sell in.

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The only thing worse than training employees and losing them is to not train them and keep them.

–  Zig Ziglar, American author and business expert.

On 29th June, communications professionals across inhouse teams and agencies gathered at M&C Saatchi PR’s Golden Square offices to discuss the importance of training and professional development in our industry. A topic of particular note as increasingly reports are revealing shocking statistics. According to Marketing Week, for example, over 90% of marketers have ‘poor’ media training, and just 9.4% of marketers and agencies believe that their current media training programmes are at ‘satisfactory’ levels. Despite this, when polled marketers and communications professionals view training as being one of the most benefical factors on an agency’s ROI.

Opening the PRCA Council meeting was M&C Saatchi PR’s Global CEO and Co-Founder, Molly Aldridge. Aldridge emphasised the importance of investing in training and development from junior staff members to senior business leaders. To  help navigate where exactly businesses need to be investing, four key speakers were invited present. Here are the key take outs:

  1. Don’t neglect your leaders

Sally Netherwood - PRCA Council hosted by M&C Saatchi PRInternational Leadership Coach, Sally Netherwood, who works with c-suite professionals and has a strong background in communications highlighted the importance of paying attention to the highest paid and most valuable members of the team, who, ironically, are the most neglected. As leaders in a business, they are role models that influence and shape company culture. It is therefore key to keep leaders motivated, developing and always looking forward if any business is to succeed.

2. Build junior staff confidence

Steve Dunne - PRCA Council hosted by M&C Saatchi PRAccording Digital Drums’ CEO, Steve Dunne, the two most difficult areas for young people coming into the PR industry are media sell in and account management. Dunne advises that companies which invest in eliminating the ‘Sunday dread’ and training junior members of staff in ‘The Art of the Sell In’ are those that thrive. Moreover that people often forget that the biggest leap in our career is from Account Executive to Account Man ager. Juniour staff are often not given the chance to grow into their new role and this can have huge consequences on business and client relationships. To futureproof your buisness, it’s crucial to therefore invest in training (like these offered by PRCA) to increase confidence in the day to day, improve morale and to encourage staff to excel from day dot.

3. Presentation, presentation, presentation

Trevor Morris - PRCA Council hosted by M&C Saatchi PROur next speaker was Public Relations author, professor and consultant Trevor Morris. Morris shared his insights into what a successful presentation should look like and how vital it is to train staff in this area. For as we all know, without good presentation skills, there’s no successful pitches, then no new business, followed by no growth and so th e domino effect continues. Top tips? Stop rushing and being preachy with the background accompaniment of a novella on a single powerpoint slide. Instead, find the purpose of your presentation and be enthuastic about it.

4. Embed creative processes that challenge

Emma Hazan - PRCA Council hosted by M&C Saatchi PROur final speaker was Emma Hazan, Global Head of Consumer at Hotwire. Hazan emphasised the importance of training junior staff in the creative process. It’s not just about passionate off the cuff brainstorming, it’s about challenging the brief. Staff need to be trained in the process of how to get under the skin of a brand, analyse data and uncover the  killer insight that’s needed in order to produce really creative ideas and campaigns. The challenge comes in embedding a creative process early on, whilst not stifling impromptu creativity from junior staff members.

It’s important to remember that each business will have different personalities, pitfalls and needs when it comes to the training and development of staff. The key is to be brutally honest and assess where in your staff need most attention and investment. Only by acknowledging strengths and weaknesses will you be able to draw up a plan that will deliver ROI and ultimately, to paraphrase Richard Branson, train people well enough so they can leave, whilst treating them well enough so they don’t want to.  This is key to building a motivated, creative and innovative working environment that delivers world class results.

For more information please contact Sara.Cerutti-Payne@mcsaatchi.com.


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M&C Saatchi PR is part of the creative marketing group M&C Saatchi. The agency launched in London in 2010. Within just under seven years the agency operates in 8 markets worldwide, servicing over 50 clients and has recently be awarded the CIPR’s Large PR Consultancy of the Year 2017. The agency lives and breathes its ‘driven by passion’ mantra which manifests in the form of everything from ‘passion days’, a day off for staff to explore their passions, to ‘passion mapping’ and ‘passion prospecting’ to ensure its people are matched to clients, projects and sectors they’re interested in.

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