This week we welcomed senior leaders from our membership to the London Stock Exchange for a forum to discuss key concerns in the industry, and hear from our speaker Tom Hinton (LSEG).

Claire welcomed our attendees to the session, and then Tom began his presentation. He discussed the bounce back expected from 2022 in 2023, and commented on both the volatile and the cyclical nature of the market. After every crisis, he said, there is a bounce back, because investors have unspent capital and that money gets depreciated by inflation if it isn’t spent. As Head of Issuer Services and Digital Platforms, he also discussed how unique online platforms help LSEG work with and support clients in the current climate.

Our facilitator Andrew Winterburn (3Sixty Consulting) then opened the discussion out to our attendees. He began by asking everyone whether they felt their year had been good, medium or less good than hoped for. The group all raised their hands for medium to good years, before discussing some of the challenges they were currently facing. Lead times, everyone agreed, were still short, sometimes a week or less. But the group felt this was improving slightly, as clients came to the realisation that they were fighting for limited resources.

From a staffing perspective, the group talked about the challenges of re-resourcing agencies to meet the high-level of demand this year. They discussed topics such as how to manage the expectations of freelancers who came out of the industry during the pandemic and have returned with new expectations, and how to encourage people to come back into the office. Hybrid working comes with its pros and cons. Employers have a greater geographic talent pool to recruit from as people are happy to travel that bit further if they are just in a couple of days a week, for example. On the other hand it can be difficult to offer young people development opportunities and invest them in a company culture that makes them feel this is a special place to work. Good candidates remain difficult to find, and the hiring process is much longer than it used to be. Day rates and rate cards have also increased but client budgets have not, meaning agencies are having to do more with less.

Looking forwards the group talked about a sense of momentum into 2023, but equally a real sense of caution after two such unpredictable years. More and more, they said they were seeing money being funnelled into evergreen content and campaigns rather than stand alone events. Clients want content that lives on. The group weighed the advantages and disadvantages of working across multiple sectors (e.g. healthcare, sport etc) or as a group company. They talked about the importance of having a spread of clients and sectors, but equally the value, especially as a small business, of having a USP. Specialising in something that isn’t industry specific such as responsible business was given as an example of a great way to meet both those criteria.

On the subject of sustainability and DEI, the group agreed on the increased importance of ESG (environment, social and governance). Agencies and suppliers are expected to have policies on these things as standard, or risk losing work. However, this can be seen as an opportunity to lead change. Our industry has so much influence over how clients spend their budget and communicate with their audiences. Not to mention a whole generation of young people who are passionate about these topics.

Thank you to our Board Member Tom Hurley (LSEG) and the team at LSEG for hosting this event. And thank you to our sponsor Richmond Communication Directors’ Forum.

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