By Cary Hatch, CEO, MDB Communications
On Friday, June 10, I moderated a panel at the PR Summit DC on the impact of convergence in communications on public relations and public affairs firms.
As CEO of MDB Communications, we’ve recognized, for nearly a decade, the rapidly-changing worlds of PR and public affairs. With the evolution of the powerful “voice of the consumer” and the plethora of communications solutions, the landscape becomes even more thought-provoking for agencies. Warranting a changing business model, perhaps?
Our thought-leadership panel at the PR Summit DC addressed four areas where convergence has posed challenges and opportunities: client acquisition, strategy and planning, securing talent and bottom-line profitability.
Mimi Carter (Environics), Chintimini Keith (Edelman DC Digital) and Greg Johnston (agencyQ) provided insight, validation and color commentary on each of the issues. They held a shared perspective on the need to remain curious, in order to remain relevant and fluent on the accelerating changes in technology and consumer trends.
The panel was in agreement on the challenges of securing multidisciplinary talent (although most said D.C. was an attractive destination due to the range of advocacy and cause-related issues). Teaming and strategic partnerships continue to evolve as a necessity in order to win business, by offering the most knowledgeable lineup. Clients truly are seeking “best of breed” to service their accounts. Period.
Our experts underscored the importance of representing true core competencies and not “ancillary capabilities”. There was wide agreement on the qualities sought in agency candidates—beyond the resume; wicked smart, adaptive, eager and able to apply their “life-experience” were cited as must haves.
As with most businesses these days, there was a consistent reference to the velocity of change and the need to assess and reassess client needs to avoid defaulting to “what we’ve always done”. Additionally, staffing and the investment in technology were mentioned as ongoing needs. It was widely acknowledged that agencies need to dynamically support today’s CMOs, for their world unforgivingly scrutinizes return on investment (and ideas) at a dizzying pace; annually, monthly and (in some cases) daily.
Time to change your business model during a time of relentless convergence of media, skills and while industry disciplines continues to change? Certainly worth considering.
(In Photo, left to right: Hatch, Keith, Johnston, Carter)