What’s changed is fairly significant. The leaders include several independent agency heads who have always followed their own path. Folks like Richard Edelman and Margery Kraus. Kudos to them.
It also includes visionary leaders of Fortune 100 companies, like Sally Susman, whose team is innovating communications in ways large and small. No surprise to see Google and Disney and Wal-Mart among others. All great leaders within great companies.
The larger agencies presence is much smaller than I would expect. And here is why I believe this to be the case.
The old model of big agencies is like a ball and chain. It’s hard to figure out how to innovate beyond it. The people running agencies are smart as ever, but their model is an impediment.
Leaders want big picture, marketing-oriented thinking from us….they want us thinking like CMO’s, not silos, whether it is social media or creative or PR or other. Synergy needs to be real and lived every day.
PR firms are too often thinking like PR people…..this is frustrating clients who want bigger, more integrated thinking. Most PR firms are in major danger of becoming less relevant at a time when more opportunity than ever is leaking out of the big agency model into next gen firms.
Clients are looking for great ideas…..well rounded, measurable, game changing ideas and models and metrics. They want next practices, not best practices.
What it means is that integration within a firm has to happen yesterday. It is partly “how we do it”. It is about the talent mix. It is about encouraging our team to learn about new areas of the marketing mix.
We need to keep hiring people from different backgrounds in the marketing spectrum, who will challenge our thinking/add new ideas/new ways to move. We should be asking ourselves if we are hiring too many people who think the same way. We want great PR people right next to great digital leaders right next to creative geniuses. No silos, just great teams. We all raise our game as a result.
The next gen agency is equally comfortable handling PR or social media or advertising or direct marketing or other opps as they arise and can do so in an efficient manner. They won’t need to call on separate departments of separate people in separate P&Ls. They will simply tap their team. Agencies will either be ready when the market is ready or the opportunity will simply fly by. Integration is happening today in ways never imagined 15 years ago when we started talking about it continually.
Jim is building this type of next gen firm every day at WCG . We know it because we are living it. It’s why I believe he made the power list.
Now back to work….
All the best, Bob Pearson