Quality recruitment is key to getting the most out of your greatest asset

Finding the right person who can lead a team, develop the business, mirror the culture - and protect the brand's heritage and DNA is critical. (Stock picture)

Alan O'Neill

The communications industry has been touched by an incredible amount of change over the years. While the pillars still include advertising, PR, graphic design, video, promotions and events, the big change is in the choice of media platforms. Digital is now a big part of the mix that has changed the industry forever.

As individuals, we have all become aspiring marketers due to ready access to social medial platforms. That's great on the one hand but also has some risk for our individual brands, especially when we are impulsive with our messages and responses. I believe in having an integrated approach to marketing. Even if you do use niche service providers such as digital marketing agencies, PR agencies and so on, consistency of message content, tone and style is critical to your brand integrity.

Morrow Communications

Morrow Communications is a Belfast-headquartered communications company, founded by Peter Morrow 30 years ago. With a team of 30 energetic professionals, it provides a fully integrated service to clients in Ireland and the UK - in the public sector and across industry.

I have experienced all calibres of event management teams when speaking at events. There is a lot at stake for the client in terms of landing a message and enhancing reputation. The experience for the delegate too should be seamless. That applies to every touch point, from advertising the event to ensuring a comfortable and professional experience, online and in person. I worked with Morrow at a recent IntertradeIreland event in Croke Park and they ticked all boxes.

But Morrow is about much more than events. When I subsequently met the directors, what impressed me most was the strong culture of the organisation. Digital is, of course, a growth area. "Everyone's talking about digital but where it fits within the overall communications mix is what's important," says Peter. "It's more about how it is used and how its content is managed."

Clients include Asda, Moy Park, Safefood, BBC Learning, Dale Farm, Eir, Fujitsu and Flahavan's. Specialisms include media relations, graphic design, AV production, digital and events.

Recent challenges

The company has enjoyed growth every year since its foundation and naturally wants to continue with that trajectory. Peter and the team are encouraged by the growth in the economy in the Republic. With Brexit on the horizon, Morrow also plans to open a Dublin office. "This will be a very exciting opportunity for the successful applicant," said Peter.

Recruitment tips

Finding the right person who can lead a team, develop the business, mirror the culture - and protect the brand's heritage and DNA is critical.


1 Create a job profile by writing down the key performance criteria, under the headings of knowledge, attitude, and skill. In Morrow's case it will certainly include leadership, people management, business development and an appropriate level of financial understanding. Ask yourself 'What level of performance' for each element.

2 Consider the values linked to your organisation's DNA you want to protect.

3 Consider which criteria are essential in a candidate and which are merely desirable. I remember encouraging Selfridges to open their applications to people without retail sales experience. They could be trained to do that. Traits such as 'Showing respect for others' are more about attitude. Hire for attitude where you can train for skill.

The interview

4 Set the scene and build rapport to make the candidate feel welcome. Remember that you are 'selling' your company to them.

5 The CV is a record of the applicant's career to date, but is unlikely to perfectly mirror your performance criteria. Don't limit your questions to what the CV prompts for you. Focus your questions more on what you agreed in preparation are key criteria.

6 Interviews are notoriously ineffective on their own as a selection tool. Try to mitigate that by using scenario-based questions in order to get underneath prepared answers.

7 If the candidate shows no evidence of an essential criteria, use 'what if' questions. For example: 'if a team member's performance is less than expected, how would you handle it?'

8 Remember, it is unlawful to ask discriminatory questions about gender, marital status, sexual orientation and so on.

9 Keep a written record of the interview and be sure to write only what you would be happy to see produced in a court of law.

Next steps

10 Check references before you make a decision.

11 Rather than landing the new hire in the deep-end, plan for structured on-boarding and induction training.

12 Check out citizensinformation.ie/en/employment/ for advice on contracts.

Summary People are an organisation's greatest asset. Getting the best performance from them requires a total focus on the HR mix. That includes recruitment, training, communications and care. Getting the right people to match the brand DNA and the strategy is critical. That always starts with quality recruitment.

Alan O'Neill is a change consultant and non-executive director. For 25-plus years he has been supporting global and iconic brands through change. Alan-oneill.com. Business advice questions for Alan can be sent to sundaybusiness@independent.ie