Tuesday 18 December 2007


The run-in to Christmas is an odd time in recruitment. Clients can often be absolutely desperate to get someone in by the end of the year, or absolutely desperate to get someone to start ASAP in the New Year but all are struggling with the traditional end-of-year backlog of work, parties and present buying. Finding the time to book in interviews or even just finding the time to think about booking in interviews can prove impossible. Things do happen, but most things get postponed. The same goes for candidates - the onrushing New Year can often manifest itself as a mental turning of a page... and the fear of turning over only to find exactly the same story as the page before often prompts an epiphany that change is a necessity. Unfortunately however, time to meet up/write CV's/have an in-depth conversation about their plans (all of which are necessary if I am to stand any chance of getting to the bottom of what they want, need and are suitable for) is in short supply.
The oft-resounding cry 'I'll do it over Christmas' falls on cynical recruiter ears... who is truly going to be organised enough to find time between turkey-basting, present-wrapping, champagne quaffing, Turkey-burning, present-opening, hangover-stuggling, New Year readying, New Year partying and hangover-struggling to sit down and update their CV?! I mean, come on!

There is an upside to being a recruiter within the Industry around Christmas however - I do get to hear about some of the gaffe's/mistakes/shocking behaviour from the agency Christmas do's... and there have been some classics this year! Unfortunately though, being good at my job requires big ears but certainly not a big mouth so I can't divulge the stories here... sorry!

Tuesday 11 December 2007

Back from the Bed

I had a 'minor' operation 10 days ago or so which turned out to be a bit more major than I was expecting! I was hoping to be in theatre on the Friday and back at work on the Monday.. not being able to get out of bed from Saturday through to Thursday put paid to those lofty ambitions however. That said, some huge improvements in both health and spirits over the weekend reinvigorated me and, after getting the all-clear from the Doctor, I returned to work feeling fresh and ready for the run-in to Christmas... then I saw my inbox... I should have stayed in bed!

Monday 26 November 2007


It was my girlfriend's birthday this past weekend and it proved a great excuse to indulge just a bit. I took her along to a Belgian Chocolate Making course on Sunday which was great fun. They talk you through the history and the process of making the best tasting chocolate ever, they have a professional chocolateer make truffles, caramel and chocolate in front of you which you then decorate in by dunking in bowls of warm chocolate and toppings etc. Stuffing myself with chocolate at 10.30am on a Sunday morning did make me feel a little queasy to start with, but I soon got into the swing of things! I would definitely recommend it to anyone who has a sweet tooth (a must). The other event of the weekend was a trip to the relatively new musical Wicked.... and I absolutely loved it! I've seen a number of the old classics but this trumped or equalled them all. If you haven't heard anything about it, the story is The Wizard of Oz story, as told from the Witches side. It was highly amusing, the music was catchy and vibrant, the acting was generally of a very high standard and the set was impressive. They even managed to pop in a bit of social comment about the insidious human trait of gaining and retaining power over a society via the identification and persecution of a minority group. A packed theatre and standing ovation at the end (it was a matinee performance) said it all.

Thursday 15 November 2007

Everyone wants Planners!

Everyone wants Planners!! Although this may not be exactly the case, there is certainly a rising clamor from an ever broadening vista of agencies from a range of different sectors for Planners. PR is certainly one of these and I have recently heard a few persuasive arguments that it could be a very interesting proposition for ambitious and innovative Planners. There is an argument that PR is positioned in an area of knowledge and experience when it comes to understanding and influencing the modern day consumer - empowered, opinioned and fickle.

It appears that the PR agencies’ methods of understanding and influencing the consumer are very different from many traditional agencies. PR agencies tend to substitute the more traditional methods of segmenting, watching and telling with listening to, learning and reacting. It is well documented and oft repeated that today’s consumers are constantly bombarded from all sides with brand messages day-in day-out so today’s challenge is to make your brand stand out, to be different and relevant. For PR it’s the how, where, when and through which channel which takes prevalence over the brand/story/message you are trying to communicate, and this seems utterly relevant for today’s consumer. This is not to mention the control they are able to exert over the media (the power of the written word still remains, even in today’s cynical world). For example, an ‘expert analyst’ of the FMCG sector stating that a certain company/brand has shown strong sales figures and brand loyalty in the past year surely holds far more power than the MD, or the Advertising campaign of said company claiming the same thing.

Does this mean that PR is at the cutting edge of marketing communications – and the cutting edge that all Planners should aspire to be at… or have I just been beguiled?!

Wednesday 3 October 2007

Grads into Planning

Coming back to my post of 3/9/07 (I know, I am terrible at regular updates... sporadic updates seems to be more my forte!) Back to The Blog in which I mentioned I had been investigating the options of getting Graduates into Planning. From my (a recruiter) perspective it is certainly the long game that needs to be played here, rather than the short one. In other words, the stance I now take with those Graduates I come across or those that approach me is that of helping them get into the industry via advice/ideas and useful things to look at (ie. adgrads, adlads and another planning blog) rather than placing them into roles myself.

This may seem an odd way of doing things - after all, I will often only get paid when I place someone in a job, rather than for any of the work up-front/in-between. But there are reasons...

Firstly, and most importantly, there are only a small number of agencies for which a specialist Planning-recruiter is of relevance. The big networks/Agencies have their Grad Schemes, on which they certainly spend enough money anyway, and to which much Graduate talent generally flocks in good numbers... recruiter not needed.

Secondly, the small-to-mid sized agencies with teams of 2-6 Planners have very different problems. Problem 1. They may not have the graduate-awareness or the necessary internal structure to set-up a Grad-scheme. Problem 2. Hiring a Graduate is always a risk - Graduates, however good on paper, are always an unknown and untested quantity - and it is rare that they will be willing to pay a recruiter's fee because of the risk factor involved. Problem 3. Most importantly, I rarely come across a Planner or Planning Unit that is not overworked. Planners, as a breed, are most certainly not slackers! The impact of this is that the smaller agencies simply do not have the time nor the resources to dedicate to getting a Graduate up to Junior Planner speed, they need Planners with 2/3years experience who can hit the ground running... recruiter not needed.

What does this leave me with then? There are certainly a few mid-sized agencies as well as exceptions to the above rule to whom I might be of use. However, the numbers of agencies and potential roles here are relatively quite small and Graduate recruitment can often be accomplished via personal contacts of the Junior members of an agency... recruiter rarely needed.

So, to use a terrible analogy, Graduate recruitment (into Planning) is somewhat like walking through an Orchard full of ripe apples, but without having a basket to place them in.

Why then do I take the time to meet/inspect these apples I happen to come across (analogy finished now.. don't worry!)? Well, of course there are a number of viable routes into Planning (via Grad schemes, Account management etc) for those Graduates who are 1. driven enough and 2. good enough - and it would be hugely short-sighted of me not to get to know and to help them now... as in 2 years time... when the recruiter is needed (plenty more blogs on this one to come)... I would hope that I am still in touch with them, and in a good place to be of assistance.

Any clients reading this who happen to be the exception to the above rules and are indeed looking for Graduate Planners, do feel free to get in touch here.

Friday 14 September 2007

I'm sure most people may have seen this as I only just came across it in Campaign today. But I absolutely love the O2 Stare Out website, visit it here. As a rugby man myself, I have to suscribe to Mark Wnek's comment that 'O2 understands, profoundly understands, what rugby is, and what it means to people'. Having been on many buses/pitches/bars with countless rugby players over the years, I am certain that this ticks all the right boxes for the individuals this website seeks to engage. It's great when a brand provides you the opportunity to engage with something/someone that is of genuine interest. That said however, I do think it's even better to simply do it yourself - last year I managed to get hold of Josh Lewsey's home address (via a friend of a friend) and sent him a pre-written christmas card, along with stamped addressed envelope which he, as requested, kindly signed and returned... I might have cheated a bit but I still got a personal christmas card from Josh Lewsey.. beat that O2!

Monday 3 September 2007

Back to the Blog

Hello all. I have been absolutely feeble at keeping this blog regularly refreshed - a combination of moving house, holiday, ridiculously busy work and buying (an already much prized) Vespa. As I currently seem unable to upload a picture of the beauty I will have to attempt to briefly describe it with words. I would describe it as being of a Silvery Bullet Blue colour... but I have to admit that those friends of mine who sneeringly describe it of being more of a baby blue hue aren't all that far from the truth either. Anyway, I hear Jamie Oliver used to have a baby Blue scooter so I am in good company. It runs like a dream , starts every time and only has one tiny nick on the front bumper.. and it was a bargain. Brilliant.

On to matters more interesting than the above ramble. Work has certainly been busy, the migration of Planners to the Digital-side, the creation of 'Integrated' functions/Digital Arms/BTL Arms etc at the traditional agencies and the growth of Planning in areas previously little-touched by it has certainly meant for a hectic and fascinating time. Having tended to concentrate on mid-level Planners to Planning Director level roles and above, a level I hadn't previously spent a large amount of time on was the Graduate level/Entry-level Recruitment into the sector. Bumping into a few strong junior candidates with real drive and passion for getting into this sector made me decide to take a closer look into the possibilities for straight grads to make this move across.

As my thoughts/impressions garnered so far are relatively numerous and I am currently running out of time so I am going to leave this post here and come back very soon. In the meantime however, do visit the blog Adgrads here a new, and potentially fantastic resource for all wannabe admen!