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The Creative Industries just need to do more to Reach Out and Promote themselves

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Written by Toby Thwaites, Director, Purple Consultancy - Specialists in creative recruitment

Toby Thwaites and Paul Wood founded Purple in June 2000. Purple provides recruitment consultancy to advertising, design, integrated marketing, publishing, digital and agency office support services.

With 30 staff in London and Leeds, and with the highest paying referral scheme in the UK, they're definitely worth talking to. Through innovation and focus on client service, Purple achieves high client satisfaction levels which set it apart from its competitors.


I was really interested to get a bit of insight recently into Martin Sorrell's views on recruitment within the industry via some editorial celebrating 25 years of WPP. We at Purple, have been providing recruitment services for 10 years and agree with him that there is now, and always has been, a 'short term' view of recruitment within the creative sector. We recognise that there is a cycle of agencies under-recruiting at the more junior levels and also under-investing in their own graduate training programmes and this is precisely why, as Mr Sorrell puts it, agencies then find that they need someone and have to 'nick 'em' from their competition. The general view, perhaps shaped by the nature of agencies' relationships with their clients, is that being reactive to changing client needs is better than committing to a consistent year on year recruitment policy. Sadly, I can't see how this is going to change any time soon, although lessons should be learnt from the recent recession . . . growing your own talent and also investing in hiring and retaining the best people is surely a better policy than making promises to prospective clients in new business meetings and then trying to staff up to deliver those promises.

Having said that, I was encouraged to read this week about the relative success of the IPA Summer School which is now in its fourth year. Apparently it has grown from a one year experiment by the IPA Direct Marketing Group to a national competition, with endorsement from professors, careers advisors and universities across the country. It offers students the opportunity of a 10 week placement at the best digital and direct marketing agencies within the IPA membership and the chance to attend seminars and workshops led by leading practitioners. The initiative began as a way of rejuvenating data driven marketing to make it a more attractive option than vocational advertising and marketing careers, and it is clear now that a large proportion of candidates are coming over from those more mainstream courses and also from other unrelated degree courses.

So the conclusion must be that the IPA has succeeded in creating a course targeting talent at grass roots level. I believe that we all need to be doing more of this kind of thing as we emerge from such a tough and uncertain period in the sector's recent past. Marketers are still demonstrating low levels of confidence over future budgets and agencies will need to be wary of over spending, but they can definitely make an investment in their own future by supporting this and other initiatives of its kind.

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