The Communication Leadership Balance

The recent article in PR Week, 'Are UK PR Agencies Ageist?' highlighted research undertaken by Fleishman Hillard Fishburn that showed chief executives of the UK's top PR agencies are predominantly under the age of 50, and this situation is leading to the dearth of senior practitioners at all levels across the agency industry.

This clearly struck a chord among communication professionals. A wide range of comments have been voiced to raise concerns over this situation being unfair or unjust, show the communication industry lacks an ability to retain senior talent, or simply to defend those practitioners with many years of experience - of which I count myself!

However, I do wonder if we are missing something here when discussing the rights or wrongs of these research findings?

The communication industry has undertaken massive change over the last decade with the advent of social and digital media. While this has influenced our approach on how we interact with key audiences, nevertheless it still has to align with other traditional communication channels - and of course the power of face-to-face communication should never be under-estimated or neglected! So we can see there remains a mix of traditional and new influences and delivery mechanisms playing out here.

Every management text book and development course will also tell you that the very best teams are those where there is a wealth of skill-set, diversity and experience. All communication leaders should be mindful of this and ensure it is played out when developing their own resources.

Therefore, I do not see it is an 'either/or' situation in respect of leadership age. I believe a mix of skill-sets and experiences are needed. There is still very much a role for mature practitioners whom can provide input in areas and situations that reflect their first-hand experiences, play to their strengths and background knowledge. Likewise, they can learn from their younger colleagues on emerging communication techniques, embrace new ways of thinking and an enthusiasm to do things differently.

And what is absolutely clear is the organisation you represent - either as an in-house practitioner or consultant - will expect to receive the very best communication advice and service. While we should embrace increasing numbers of younger leaders being appointed across the industry to reflect its changing dynamics and nurture new talent, we should also recognise there is a still a place for experienced practitioners to contribute at a senior level.

These latest research findings show the leadership age balance to be skewed at present. However, for newly appointed communication leaders seeking to achieve their personal and professional goals, having a voice of experience within their team or working alongside them will provide the perfect communication balance and can only increase the likelihood of success for them and their organisation.


This product has been added to your cart