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Hiring and going green are the priorities for comms leaders, claims research

Nearly one-third (29%) of UK-based communications and investment relations leaders say finding the next superstars for their team is a top priority and over one quarter (26%) single out their sustainability strategy as demanding attention. This is according to a recent executive search company Whitney Murray’s Insight Pulse, developed with The Pulse Business, relationship?

Over the last 18 months, which ONE of these dynamics, if any, has changed the most in the Client/Agency

Talent shortage

One agency CEO with regional offices across the UK, explains the superstar conundrum, “We are turning down work at the moment because we don't have capacity within the team. We're not a sweatshop so I'd rather focus on those we employ and keep them happy and hope that a few superstars join us in the 2022.”

PR is experiencing a candidate-led market for the first time in many years. Organisations are working hard to retain their top talent. Companies are respecting out-of-office time, offering more unpaid holiday and embracing a fully flexible working week. In addition, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find and attract talent.

"We are turning down work at the moment because we don't have capacity"

In particular, there is a shortage of individuals who have experience of sustainability, corporate governance and broad marcomms skills. 

Fighting climate change

Apart from the talent shortage, another key concern is the environment. An in-house communications director shared their concerns around acting now in terms of climate change: “The planet could be on its last legs - something needs to change and sustainability is one topic that should be pushed more.”

Other priorities

One in five (21%) remain preoccupied with increasing shareholder value through effective communication. An agency CEO running a fast-track agency based around an employee-owned share model, says: "Our business is owned by our team. Next year we need to be more profitable. We invested heavily in talent, support, training and marketing and we need to improve profit margins.”

A little over one in ten (12%) say their focus is on keeping their existing staff happy and engaged, especially in light of the pandemic with one senior comms leader offering: “People need more investment than ever after the past two years, especially the young who have had such a (bad) time of it.”

Two final observations. In-house leaders also yearn for a return to normality with one hoping that previous working patterns will return. Suggesting people should be kinder to each other, another hopes we will see “increased levels of respect and consideration - between individuals and between organisations.”


The Whitney Murray Insight Pulse ran from November 26th 2021 to December 10th 2021. The sample size was c750 Communications leaders based in the UK.

Written by Rebecca Murray, managing director of Whitney Murray

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