LONDON: A majority of UK media companies, ad agencies and brand owners are optimistic about their prospects for 2011, with effective leadership and social media among the key priories going forward.

Specialist recruitment group The Lighthouse Company and research provider Work polled 300 chief executives and managing directors - and found 75% were positive about the future.

Another 79.3% agreed the domestic and international economic climate was likely to exert the most profound influence on the market.

In responding to this and further challenges, 90% of the panel said top-ranking executives would make an essential contribution.

Over half of those surveyed also asserted that technological change and social media should assume central importance in "building momentum".

"The results were fascinating - 2011 seems to be bringing renewed optimism across the media industry, with technology and innovation driving the vision," said Kathleen Saxton, founder of The Lighthouse Company.

When selecting the appointments which made the greatest difference to their operations in 2010, new business directors, executive creative directors and managing directors took the plaudits.

Looking ahead, new business directors enjoyed the same status regarding the primary recruitment targets for 2011, followed by data directors.

More broadly, firms are displaying a heightened interest in tapping individuals boasting skills gained outside communications disciplines.

Elsewhere, retaining talent was named as a vital area of focus, and 52% of interviewees argued the relationship with an immediate manager could dictate if they continued working at their current employer.

Obstacles to career progression included hesitant clients, cited by 34.1%, alongside a lack of "courageous leadership" and in-house rules, both yielding 27.3%.

The new hires causing a stir last year were Fru Hazlitt taking up the post as ITV's managing director, commercial and online, logging 65.2%, equalling the score for Initiative Media appointing Alex Altman's as ceo.

The positions considered as most attractive incorporated being a non-executive director at ITV, and the role of the BBC's marketing director.

Data sourced from The Lighthouse Company; additional content by Warc staff