Jessica Starman, MBA, Co-Founder & CEO of Elev8 New Media.
“Begin with the end in mind.” It’s a statement that may seem more like hyperbole than anything else to some, but for the late Dr. Stephen R. Covey, it was the second habit in his bestseller, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People—recognized as one the most influential business books of the 20th century.
The message is that all things are created twice—first in our minds and then when they are created in the physical world.
It is a mindset that has been adopted by many individuals to help them focus on their endgame while simultaneously dealing with the distractions of daily life, and it’s enormously effective. So effective, in fact, that organizations are also adopting the practice as a way to collectively marshal their company’s efforts toward the achievement of a larger goal or objective.
The public relations (PR) industry is no exception. The marketplace is increasingly seeing this concept being applied with great success as cross-agency collaboration among PR agencies becomes more popular and they demonstrate that they can be more effective when they work together with the same client.
In other words, cross-agency collaboration is working toward the achievement of the same end goal.
Cross-sector collaboration has been on a major uptick since the global community had to unite in the fight against serious challenges like a pandemic and world conflict. Challenges like these are so pervasive and wide-scale that one can hardly expect to resolve them with traditional siloed solutions. They are best handled when organizations break down their boundaries and pool their resources together in order to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome. In the case of the pandemic, healthcare leaders collaborated with government leaders, nurses worked closely with supply chain professionals, etc.
I believe the PR industry is the next industry that can discover how many clients can be better served with cross-functional collaboration and information sharing.
Clients are striving to drive the customer experience by applying a more customer-centric approach, and it is no longer feasible to find one PR agency with such an array of in-house talent to deliver on all PR communication requirements nowadays (think even of all the social media platforms that exist today).
This fact alone presents a compelling case for more collaboration among PR agencies who want to deliver on the unique demands of each client.
Cross-Agency Collaboration In PR
Public relations and corporate communications have evolved rapidly over the past few years, and digital channels like social media have proven themselves to be highly effective in promoting organizational messages and building brand awareness. As clients rely more and more heavily on these digital channels as a means of reaching the public, the demand for PR agencies to master these digital platforms is accelerating.
Yet “full-service” PR agencies are finding themselves at a major inflection point in history. The modern PR agency is no longer a one-size-fits-all organization anymore. It is a smaller, leaner and more agile agency that offers unique areas of expertise in specific disciplines.
Clients are progressively deviating their ad dollars away from traditional digital channels in favor of the more trendy ones. As a result, modern-day PR clients are coming to the table with an entirely new set of expectations for the type of services they want PR agencies to deliver.
The market’s reaction is the creation of smaller PR agencies that offer specialized experts who are willing to collaborate to find a mutually beneficial outcome. As cross-agency collaboration becomes the norm, clients are pleasantly surprised to discover that working with more than one PR organization isn’t necessarily as costly as it sounds, and it doesn’t create more work. On the contrary, this approach is yielding better results at a lower cost to clients.
Benefits Of Cross-Agency Collaboration
As the marketplace trends more toward cross-agency collaboration, the benefits to both client and agency are hard to deny:
• Access to a wider array of expertise and more expansive resources.
• An ability to cast a wider net and reach a larger audience.
• Encourages innovation and uncovers new opportunities for clients and agencies alike.
• Access to swaths of new, resourceful contacts that can accelerate the results of a PR campaign.
As the global marketplace becomes increasingly more connected through digital channels, it is crucial that PR agencies demonstrate a willingness to work across organizational borders to achieve shared goals. 2022 will be a very busy year for PR professionals, and agencies will be expected to offer a far broader range of services than in previous years. The best way for PR agencies to respond to the unique demands of the market is to continue collaborating as one force working toward a common goal. When common goals align, that’s beginning with the end in mind.