Healthcare agencies have seen something of an exodus of media planning and buying professionals in recent years. How can firms attract sharp, new talent to fill their media positions—and give them reason enough to stay?

Gwen Canter
Media director,
Sudler & Hennessey

Agencies need to be alert to the existing talent industry-wide, in order to identify individuals who are ready for growth opportunities. Once a junior planner has basic media experience, they’re ready for some autonomy. Allow them to make independent decisions about the brands they work on, have direct client contact and actively contribute to the day-to-day operations of their department and agency. Then broaden their intellectual horizons through contact with online media, direct-to-patient media, search-engine optimization/ search-engine marketing activities, etc. Career growth fosters job satisfaction. In order to retain new and existing talent, and to avoid “burn-out,” foster a balance between work and personal life. Many leave media to spend more time with their families or work more attractive hours. Flexibility breeds contentment in this new wireless age.

Jake Yarbrough
Group director
GCG Healthcare

The day-to-day job pressure for planners could cripple lesser professionals, but we have managed to maintain a core group by employing some very elemental techniques. The essence of this business involves honesty, integrity, respect for each other and clear, insightful communication. Our philosophy of business is basic, and our culture is equally so. We work hard to have fun and have fun working hard. When someone needs it, we all pitch in. By contributing to the group, we make the organization stronger and more successful. Creating ideas that deliver results requires a healthy balance of fun and fundamental health—health of mind, body, spirit and a strong sense of humor. This allows us to attract the best, and to keep them working for the long-term.

Marc Weiner
Conectics and Qi (CommonHealth)

Recently, agencies have lost media planners and, more often, media department managers to media sales positions that offer greater compensation and more flexible schedules. Today’s marketplace leans toward “home growing” media professionals—basically recruiting business or communications majors from college for entry-level roles. We need a positive work environment for young people that encourages personal growth and rewards achievement with promotion and salary. If we can’t deliver quality of life, we lose these people in two to three years at the point when their strategic-planning and client-service skills are blooming. We’ve been able to attract new talent with flexible work schedules and compensation packages that include a competitive salary and bonus potential. We’ve had success, too, by recruiting from the consumer media field, then showing them the health market.

Debbie Renner
SVP, media director
Cline Davis & Mann

Finding great media talent by recruiting “star performers” is akin to winning the lottery. The demand far outstrips supply. This makes home-growing talent that much more critical. One key to firm success and staff retention is gaining client approval on a realistic (but efficient) number of hours for a quality job. Proper staffing enables media planners to become intimately involved with their brands, take ownership and pride in their work and contribute real strategic and creative thinking across media channels. Providing “real value” garners client and agency trust, fuels job satisfaction and motivates planners to be even more creative. Of course, having agency leaders who believe in the value of effective media certainly doesn’t hurt much, either.