Walker Sands Study: College students turn to TV and movies for understanding of consulting

As the demand for consultants increases, professional services companies are working to fill the rapidly expanding employment pipeline. But recruiting young talent can be a challenge when so many college students view consulting careers through the distorting lens of popular entertainment.

A recent Walker Sands study of 500 U.S. college students found that of the less than half who report knowing what consulting firms do, more than one-third base that knowledge on media sources like “House of Lies” and “Up in the Air.”

Unfortunately for consulting firms, TV shows and movies like these often present an inaccurate – not to mention unflattering – picture of the consulting business. “House of Lies,” for instance, would have you believe a consulting job is all about insulting clients, while “Up in the Air” would convince you it’s actually about firing people. College students who watch these shows and movies and emerge with a skewed perception of what it means to work in consulting.

Not that “House of Lies’” writing team is to be blamed; their aim is to entertain. But the fact that so many college students base their awareness of consulting careers on entertainment points to a dearth of accessible information about what the field really entails.

Walker-Sands-Students-Perceptions-of-Consulting-Company-CultureThis awareness gap is a problem for consulting firms, especially as the need for young talent increases. Between 2014 and 2024, the demand for consulting services employment is projected to grow by 400,000 jobs. But as our study reveals, college students aren’t flocking to these roles: Only nine percent of those surveyed said they’d applied for consulting internships or jobs. And on a recent National Society of High School Scholars list of businesses millennials want to work for, only two consulting firms broke the top 100.

To debunk the media-borne myths surrounding consulting, firms should spearhead college outreach efforts that present young talent with an accurate and inviting picture of the opportunities a consulting career offers. For starters, this means emphasizing initiatives beyond the career fair, and promoting awareness through the channels students rely on most (such as professor recommendations and career centers.) It’s also never too early to start shaping perception: initiatives aimed at freshmen and sophomore college students can help ensure they don’t accept pop culture stereotypes as fact.

To learn more about how college students perceive the consulting industry – and what firms can do to better attract millennial talent – check out the full study, Where They’re Going, They Don’t Want Roadmaps: Gauging College Students’ Perceptions of Consulting Careers and watch the video.

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Walker Sands Study: What College Students Really Think About Consulting Careers

At Walker Sands, our professional services practice area works with clients in the management and technology consulting space on a daily basis. Suffice it to say, we have a direct window into the what these businesses do, how they’re structured and what motivates their employees.

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An understanding of how consulting firms operate isn’t only a necessary quality for the PR agencies they work with – it’s also a prerequisite for potential new recruits. With consulting industry employment projected to swell 26 percent between 2014 and 2024, firms need to start establishing a pipeline of interested, knowledgeable candidates.

But as our latest research illustrates, this might be easier said than done.

Walker Sands recently surveyed 500 college students across the U.S. to gauge how the next generation of the workforce perceives consulting firms and the careers they offer, and how they find out about job opportunities in the industry. Surprisingly, we discovered that four in 10 college students don’t fully understand what consulting firms do.

The new study, Where They’re Going, They Don’t Want Roadmaps: Gauging College Students’ Perceptions of Consulting Careers, highlights a handful of findings that suggest a troubling awareness gap between students and consulting firms, such as:

  • 56% of college students don’t know if consulting firms recruit at their school
  • 60% of students would rather work for a startup than a consulting firm after graduation
  • Only 9% of students have applied to intern or work for a consulting firm

Download the study and watch the video to learn more about how college students perceive the consulting industry, and what the implications are for employers.

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Dust Off Your White Hat: The Olivia Pope Skills Every PR Gladiator Needs

By Lauren Bogacz and Payal Shukla

If you work in public relations and haven’t been hiding under a rock for the past few years, you’ve undoubtedly heard of the ABC hit show “Scandal,” inspired by a real-life crisis communications professional navigating the media and political landscapes of Washington D.C. While it’s no secret that large portions of the show have dramatized what it actually means to work in PR, the main character’s struggles with wearing the “white hat” are rooted in real practices seen across agencies of all practices and industries.

The “white hat” signifies when a person is playing the role of a good guy. The concept dates back to the good ole days of black and white Western movies, where the hero always wore a white cowboy hat and the villain a black one. In public relations, most of us are the good guys and wear the white hat on behalf of our clients. This also carries over to our interactions with our client’s clients, the media and each other. Kerry Washington plays Scandal’s main character, Olivia Pope, who references on multiple occasions when she’s taking her white hat on and off. Situations arise frequently that challenge us to keep them on.

With the new season of Scandal premiering Thursday, we take a look at some prominent, real-world examples of when PR professionals must put on their “white hats” – both consciously and subconsciously.

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Friday Five 4/7-4/11

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Happy Friday! Here’s a roundup of industry news for the week:

Content Marketing is 88 Percent Less Effective Than Public Relations – Chad Pollitt, LinkedIn

A new study by Nielsen shows that expert content—credible, third-party articles (earned media)—is the most effective source of information in impacting consumers along all stages of the purchase process. More specifically, when measured against owned media (branded content) it showed that earned media is more effective across all stages of the purchase process. Check out some of the key findings outlined here!

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Little Bird: A Great Tool for “Influencing the Influencers” Marketing Programs

Thought Leader and Influencer Engagement Automation Tools
Influencer engagement automation tools like Little Bird can help you tap into the reach and power of your industry’s thought leaders…or help you become one yourself!

I use a great software-as-a-service product called Little Bird to find influencers.

What I’ve determined is that Little Bird is a very useful tool for “influence the influencer” marketing programs. These programs go by many names — influencer engagement, advocate marketing, social marketing, influencer marketing, social influencer mining and engagement, thought leader engagement, and more — but the basic idea is that you want to build relationships with experts, influencers and thought leaders to accomplish some goal.

Little Bird was recommended to me by people I met at this year’s Content Marketing World, and it turns out, unbeknownst to me (insert #CluelessCEO hash tag here), that our Walker Sand social media consultants in our Chicago office have been using it for ages to serve our clients. Glad to see that they were way ahead of me on this one!

For the uninitiated, here’s how Little Bird works, some key Little Bird features that I like, some strengths and weaknesses of Little Bird, and, last but not least, some tips for getting the most out of Little Bird.

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