Australian PR agencies must use the power of creativity to adapt to the 457 visa changes

The changes to the 457 visa will undoubtedly have a seismic effect on Australia’s PR industry. In order to adapt, employers must use their creative powers to discover new channels of home-grown talent, writes Annalise Brown.

It’s been over a month since the requirements surrounding the 457 visa were changed. Being one of the industries immediately affected, there’s been speculation on what the impact to talent within the PR and wider marketing industry will be. One side is adamant the change hurts the growth of our industry, the other is excited for a greater focus on our home-grown talent.

Change is nothing new. Over the past decade, our businesses have undergone significant evolution. We’re built to be highly adaptable, resilient and tenacious individuals. We pursue opportunity with each change that comes our way. Our perspective on the 457 visa changes should be no different.

Previously, we’ve been spoilt by a rich tapestry of international talent attracted to the Australian lifestyle. We’ve been fortunate enough to lure some of the world’s most highly sought after individuals to our industry. However, could it now also be the time for us to look deeper into what our local market has to offer?

This is an opportunity to strengthen our existing and up-and-coming talent pool, to educate the next generation on the longevity and prosperity of a career in the PR industry. Our industry is home to a plethora of brilliant minds who are able to mentor, train and demonstrate to up-and-coming PR people the scope and opportunity gained from working in agencies both here and overseas.

These changes give us the chance to redesign our recruitment process, placing diversity and unique skillsets even higher on the list of requirements. Our efforts should be anchored in upskilling and developing strategies to retain our exceptional local talent.

Across the board, we need to consider shifting our recruitment focus to finding those with skillsets that will enhance and upskill the Australian PR landscape. Let’s look outside our immediate industry. Search for strong mathematical, science and legal backgrounds to share their analytical minds, find technical designers and architects to indulge their originality and flair, and historians who can help us get to the root of our clients’ business problems.

We also need to look beyond the convenience of our close proximity talent and tap into areas further afield than our immediate skyline.

Over the past two decades, my career in PR and communications has evolved repeatedly, the only constant being the uncontested necessity of our role in helping to solve our clients’ business problems. We launch, rebuild, strengthen and solidify brands in culture. We’re a sounding board for our clients’ deepest business concerns and we develop strategies to proactively solve them and fiercely protect their reputations.

In addition to forcing us to think differently about recruitment, the 457 changes should encourage the PR and wider communications industry to develop new retention strategies, upskill existing talent and showcase to our talent pool that an agency environment can accommodate different life stages. We know why our brightest people forfeit an agency climate for in-house roles, let’s put strategies in place to combat these pain points.

Collectively, it may be time for us to work together to ensure our talent experience the breadth of environments and opportunities that a career in PR can present. Looking to exchange programs both internationally and nationally, allowing our talent to experience new work places and spaces including in-house, new cultural experiences and develop new skillsets that challenge and inspire.

We are creative, innovative, forward thinkers. Let’s put our craft in practice and think outside the box when it comes to talent.

Annalise Brown is managing director of Hidden Characters, head of PR at M&C Saatchi Group and was appointed to chair of Public Relations Council in January 2017


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