It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. That may very well describe 2012 for media companies.

As detailed in Econsultancy’s 2012 Media Growth Trends report companies are optimistic about what they can accomplish this year, but they also face numerous challenges – the least of which is the prospect of deeper economic pain in Europe.

When it comes to internal challenges, the Media Growth Trends report, which was produced in conjunction with The Jordan, Edmiston Group, found that the biggest internal challenge to growth faced by companies today is talent acquisition. To thrive in highly-competitive markets, companies need to recruit the best and the brightest, but it’s not easy.

Some of the hurdles companies most often cited:

  • Creating offering attractive compensation packages. Money isn’t everything here, but whether it’s money or intangibles, it’s not always easy to meet the expectations of the top recruits.
  • Structural limitations which reduce the ability of new hires to effect change early on. For obvious reasons, it’s nice to empower new employees to make a difference, but organisations aren’t always structured for that.
  • Skepticism around flexible work arrangements. Demands for telecommuting, for instance, are increasing, particularly amongst younger members of the workforce, but changing management attitudes about how the workplace operates can be difficult.

So how are companies dealing with these challenges? Some are wisely focusing on internal development. Sometimes it’s an outright necessity. As one CEO surveyed noted, “there aren’t enough” experts to recruit in some markets. Other companies are willing to make exceptions for certain kinds of recruits. One publisher reported making a greater effort to accommodate developers: “without the tech talent to put ideas into action, all the learning we’re getting from customers can’t help us.”

Another way of recruiting talent that may become quite popular in 2012 is the acquihire. Many of the mid-to-large size companies were bullish on acquisitions prospects this year. Some, flush with cash thanks to recession-induced saving, are more than capable of making deals happen. With a growing number of startups formed in the past several years reaching a make-or-break point, we could start to see a flurry of young companies seeking an exit on realistic terms.

Acquihires, of course, aren’t a perfect solution. Retaining the talent that comes through M&A can be tough (just ask AOL). So whether a company is recruiting via more traditional means or looking to acquire a company primarily for its talent, making sure that there’s a satisfying environment for them is crucial to making such an acquisition successful.

This highlights perhaps one of key takeaway from the Media Growth Report: companies will have to be increasingly resourceful and willing to think outside the box to attract and retain the best of the best. From compensation packages to structural organisation to acquihires, finding and recruiting the right people will likely require a broader view of the market and far more thoughtfulness in 2012.