Guest Post: The Relevance of Advertising Agencies in an Evolving Recruitment Landscape

Adam Shay, Managing Director of  The Face answered our query – how relevant are advertising agencies in a rapidly evolving recruitment landscape?.

When I first read this question from Destination Talent I took immediate umbrage to the fact my craft of 15 odd years was seemingly under threat, that its value was being questioned! By the time I’d calmed down and re-read the question I could see its validity (excuse me for seeming dramatic but running an ad agency during a recession is tough, running an ad agency focused on recruitment, during a recession is well, challenging.)

Given the significantly reduced number of column centimetres taken up by recruitment ads in all major Australian press titles and the recent failure of one of the biggest agencies (and recruitment brands) in Australia, I can see why people may be questioning the value of what it is we do. In fact, in the aftermath of TMP’s demise, I saw many an article and tweet expressing condolences for those working in the recruitment advertising industry.

So, in a market of online migration, social media, increased levels of networking and a drive towards referrals where do agencies like The Face add value, and has our role changed? The answer to the latter is a resounding no – the issue is one of appearance. The role of a (good) employer marketing agency is to help our clients attract and retain great talent by distilling what’s great about working for them then delivering the message to the right audience (internal and external) in a creative and compelling manner. The problem of appearances lies in the fact that many agency Directors (myself included) were blinded by one dimensional revenue streams during the good times. We were hitting budgets by doing the basics right, getting ads in the papers and online for a good price and a consistent manner. Those who didn’t make the decision to evolve their offering 3 years ago were destined to fail.

At The Face it wasn’t just about extending our service offering (which we rightly did); it was also about reasserting to ourselves what our position was. We decided two years ago that we needed to stand for something and have a steadfast focus on it. We trademarked the term, ‘Ideas Move People’ and to this day it drives everything we do. At our heart we’re a creative business filled with creative people. Ideas are our currency. We don’t see a brief as simply a job requisition, we see it as an opportunity to build the right perception in the mind of a candidate or employee, a perception that we believe has a greater long term effect on career decisions.

The HR industry has a raft of suppliers offering increasingly conflicting services. Like many of those suppliers, recruitment advertising/employer marketing agencies need to reassert what they stand for and focus on building value in the minds of their clients. There will always be a need for agencies to place ads but it probably won’t sustain an industry. The role of a good ad agency is changing, but only in the sense that we need to become less reliant on placing ads and more focused on building employer brands and adding value to our clients’ recruitment and retention needs. When you choose an ad agency you’re buying into creative thinking and good creative thinking will always add value.

Adam Shay is Managing Director of The Face.

Adam has a particular interest in the role internal and external communications play in employee and candidate engagement. He has worked on multiple projects defining and communicating the vision and values and employer brand of multiple businesses in Australia and abroad.  Recently, The Face launched a new brand called Euro RSCG Engage. Engage is focused solely on helping organisations engage and retain their own talent by ensuring they are communicated to in an effective and engaging manner.

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