Let’s start off with complete transparency… I’ve only been in the PR and Communications industry for six years! If you’re still reading, you’re probably one of the people who accepts change and has an understanding that the PR, Marketing, Digital, Social and Advertising spaces are slowly merging. With that integration comes the need for the acceptance of fresh ideas and the adaptation to “New.”
I’d like to digress for a moment, if I may. As a former professional athlete, I learned early on that adapting and continuing to push the boundaries of physical and mental capabilities were a MUST to compete at a high level. (To this day my mind still thinks I can perform at that level while my body tells me otherwise.) The point is that PR is evolving and the skill-sets of both agencies and PR professionals need to change to be able to compete and deliver the creative quality that many brands are expecting from their agency partners.
So how do we adapt as Agency professionals?
- Start/End with Research. Through research and the right technology/analytics, we can:
- Understand the current challenges and successes from previous engagements.
- Identify any discrepancies in current thinking and align forward thinking.
- Track metrics in real time to monitor for changes in engagement, impressions, clicks, conversions, sales and overall ROI.
Once we have a clear understanding of the past and present, we can begin planning for the future while keeping in mind that a brand’s goal is almost ALWAYS to generate revenue directly or indirectly. Brands are often presented with the same challenges that many agencies face as they look to communicate internally and align strategies between Marketing, Sales, Advertising, Finance, etc. A good agency partner recognizes that these internal communications issues are nearly as important as the external communications and engagement that the brand partnered with them on in the first place!
- Ask, never ASSuME, that another agency is already handling an identified issue. If a brand is struggling to convert people on their website and you are working on the social media portion of the brand work, you probably won’t have as much impact on conversions as you’d like until the website is redesigned and optimized.
Time and time again, I’ve seen agency pros tasked with only a small portion of the resolution of a problem. How can you pitch media or place good content on a website if you’re not involved in the initial creation of messaging or design? You can’t guarantee that your portion of the content will be up to par with what you need. Partnering directly with the other agency that handles this portion of the business streamlines communications processes and alleviates a portion of the internal communications problem that can exist within brands. This brings me to my next point.
- Be Honest! Time is money. People are working harder, longer hours to deliver more than they did previously. I have yet to meet a brand representative that didn’t appreciate honest feedback on a project. If you see something that could potentially impact a project negatively OR have a suggestion for an improvement, SPEAK UP. The best relationships I’ve built over the years began with an opportunity to “be a human” and act on behalf of the best interests of my client.
The best business is repeat business. I like this saying because I get to go golfing or have drinks with my long-time clients. They know me, and I know them. We get the business portion of our conversations out of the way and enjoy catching up on life, chatting about real-life experiences, and sometimes we even get to play golf. Long-time clients are also far more likely to let you know about potential issues in the future so that you can properly plan to resolve them. Become a trusted partner through open and honest dialogue.
- Never Stop Learning. So many of the new services I’ve created for my past agencies are a direct derivative of a conversation I’ve had with a client. In fact, this is the exact reason I chose to join my new agency. I love the fact that everyone here has a similar mindset: What else can we do for our client to drive results and make their overall experience better?
- Enjoy the Ride. I include this section because this is my personal goal for 2018. In the past decade, I’ve rebuilt three organizations (sales and marketing), grown sales by a combined average of over 150% YOY, introduced over a dozen new services and variations of services, gotten married, moved a half-dozen times, and never once stopped to internally reward or congratulate myself on the successes. I’ve always been so focused on the next task that I forgot about the last one. Have fun! Be a Human! Enjoy the Ride!