MEPRA Youth Board member, Hanisha Lalwani shares with us more insight on the findings from the survey.
Earlier this week, MEPRA announced the results from its first Talent Barometer survey, which provided insights into the motivations, challenges, ambitions and opportunities of young communication professionals today. Communicate spoke with Hanisha Lalwani, MEPRA Youth Board Vice President & Senior Marketing Manager MEA, PageGroup, to learn more about the findings and how PR firms in the region should act on them.
How does the next generation of PR view the profession today?
The next generation of PR professionals come across as highly self-aware of the value their function serves to organisations, as revealed by our Talent Barometer. Young communications professionals and students alike not only know what their strengths and weaknesses are in terms of soft skills and technical expertise, but also understand the importance of upskilling to thrive in the industry at a time when PR as we know is being disrupted.
What are their expectations of the industry today?
The survey revealed that a hybrid working model, career progression and company culture were high on the agenda for the next generation of PRs. We also found that respondents expect mental health and wellbeing to be prioritised more heavily in a post-pandemic world, citing it as one of the most crucial factors for a supportive and positive company culture.
How has the pandemic affected their aspirations/goals in the industry?
Working in PR offers practitioners the exposure of [working with] international brands across multiple industries and sectors. Not just that, the role of communications has grown into a strategic business function and one that wields influence; and the function’s significance has been further amplified as businesses chart their post-Covid recovery. These reasons continue to render PR an aspirational career choice.
But Covid-19 also made some of the aspirations of young professionals evidently more practical. According to our survey, 90% of the respondents are looking for a hybrid working model. This expectation is not surprising considering the remote work experiment has been largely successful and multiple researches have shown that flexible working does not adversely impact productivity. Furthermore, mental health and salary reductions were the two biggest challenges faced by PRs as a direct result of COVID-19. In the months following the outbreak of the virus, many PR professionals found themselves overworked and stressed. It is thus not surprising that our survey revealed they expect wellbeing and mental health support from employers.
Overall, there is real passion coming from the younger generation to showcase exceptional results, rise up the ranks and stay committed to the PR industry.
What are the key skills both soft and hard, that young communicators need to equip themselves with?
Good writing is still very much at the heart of effective communication and remains key in finding the balance between form, content, structure and style, especially in a time when traditional media continues to undergo massive transformation, with the evolution of new technologies and digital media. PR professionals with fluent English and Arabic written and oral skills stay highly sought after. With many brands increasing their influencer marketing campaigns, the emergence of newer social media platforms like TikTok and the audience appetite of consumer video-first content, expertise in video editing and scriptwriting are becoming pre-requisites for many communications based roles in the region. From a soft skills perspective, the ability to work as a team player is a critical one to demonstrate for both in-house and agency professionals.
How should employers of PR firms act on the findings from the study?
The MEPRA Youth Board’s Talent Barometer clearly showcases the benefits the young workforce is looking for from employers. Top of the list is a workplace culture which aligns with their values, allowing them to bring their whole selves to work every day. Next, organizations must structure and communicate clear career progression paths if they are to retain top talent.
Then, professionals expect fair and competitive salaries given the increasing importance of their role, especially in times of crisis. Furthermore, PRs want to work in organizations that have a clear purpose to enable them to deliver high impact results and support business growth. And finally, businesses must actively invest in their L&D resources to support the professional development plan of their employees. Delaying or failing to act upon these insights, organizations could lose their relevance with the young workforce, have high attrition of top talent and ultimately, risk losing their competitive advantage.