The Agency Model: The Case for Strategists vs. Tacticians Lisa Albert TCU Director of Communication
The higher education world is full of clutter and noise All telling you why they’re the best: Friendly Smart students Attractive campus Successful professors Personalized attention Big time athletics Alumni have lucrative careers Research opportunities
Tactics An action you take to execute the strategy We all have training, education and experience that help us execute the tactics But are they effective?
How effective are your tactics? Do you take orders for brochures/news releases? Do your departments speak to one another? Are your efforts integrated? Do your constituents know who you are? Do they remember anything about you? Do you know who you are? (what’s your elevator speech?)
Then you muststrategize A strategy is an idea… A conceptualization of how the goal could be achieved.
Components of good strategy Thorough understanding of the brand. A realistic assessment of the institution’s strengths & weaknesses. (market research, SWOT) A clear picture of the competition and your place in the market. Intimate knowledge of the consumer and the market. A grasp of the big-picture.
A great strategy does not depend on brilliant tactics for success. If the idea is strong enough, you can get by with mediocre tactical execution. However, even the best tactics can’t compensate for a lousy strategy.
How to develop a good strategy See the big picture Research (establish baseline and problem) Set goals/know where you’re headed – What problem are you trying to solve? Plan how to move the needle/affect change Coordinate tactical efforts Figure out how you will measure effectiveness
A suggestion To act strategically, set up your team like an internal ad agency
TCU’s Marketing & Communication Division Editorial Services Events & Community Projects Office of Communications Website Management Admission Marketing Publications Advancement Communication Church Relations
Before you begin…Know your brand To be effective, you must have a clear picture of who your institution is Research to establish a baseline and develop a method to measure if results Can’t be all things to all people What sets you apart? Have a branding platform – this is your roadmap
Position your team as consultants with expertise Identify your team members’ strengths and talents and allow those people to serve as your experts on that subject
Develop “beats” Account Executives divide campus areas into “beats” to ensure all areas get adequate attention
AE vs Modified AE model Typical AE – serves on “front lines” meeting with clients to establish needs, then hands project off to design team, etc. Modified AE – serves on “front lines” meeting with clients to establish needs, but stays with the project through each piece to ensure all strategy and branding is followed and well-integrated
Account Executives meet with areas to determine needs Is this information reputation-defining? How does this align TCU’s brand? The college’s brand? Who are you trying to reach? What do you want them to know? What are the key messages? What is your end goal? What is your time frame? What is your budget?
Gather your team to discuss needs After a brief assessment of needs, pull together team members needed to offer expertise Ex. You know they desire a leave behind piece. Talk to your publications team to determine what it should look like – brochure, rack card, etc.
Develop an integrated and strategic communication plan Outline goals/objectives Messages – What is reputation-defining? Tools/tactics Timing Budget/cost estimates
Create a work order Paper or electronic Should outline all details of the project for the designer/developer Creative brief is helpful to understand direction/purpose
Assign deadlines and responsibilities Project management software (TCU uses Basecamp) Help beats know which pieces they are responsible for and keeps them on track System can easily update all milestones if one gets pushed back to see bottom line
Gather content Usually falls to the beat area, but others on the team may help Need to gather: Design – text and images Copy – who, what, when, where, why, how Web – site map Social media – guidelines checklist Event - who, what, when, where
As you gather content… Keep your end goal in mind What stories/images are reputation-defining? Never let design drive strategy
Execute tactics in plan All team members execute the tactics outlined in plan AEs Coordinate timing of plan Typical AE vs. Modified AE - the AE works with the designer/developer as it moves through their area of expertise to ensure messaging and brand stay on point strategically Be careful not to pigeon hole a designer as an “ad maker”. They can visually bring your message to life. (same for copywriters/web developers/etc)
Evaluate Review your baseline. Did you reach your goal? Did you move the needle? Do your messages now resonate with your intended audience?
Why go to the trouble? You will prove more effective and valuable to your administration if you are able to affect change. By touting the expertise of your team on campus, you will be seen as valuable and they will seek your help more on projects. You will advance the brand of your institution effectively and will be known for who you are
Questions? Lisa Albert TCU Director of Communication 817-257-5063 firstname.lastname@example.org www.mkc.tcu.edu