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PRCA Covid-19 Taskforce: Building a Survival Strategy for your PR Agency

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Developing business strategies that will allow your agency to not only survive lock-down and a world without a vaccine for Covid-19 but to differentiate itself and grow income.

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PRCA Covid-19 Taskforce: Building a Survival Strategy for your PR Agency

  1. 1. PRCA COVID-19 Taskforce: Building a survival strategy for your agency 5TH MAY 2020
  2. 2. Today’s panelists  Richard Houghton – Agency Doctor , co-author Grow, Build Sell Live, UK  Crispin Manners – CEO, Onva Consulting, co-author grow, Build Sell Live, UK  Jurgen Gangoly - Regional President, Europe at International Communications Consultancy Organisation – ICCO, CEO The Skills Group, Austria  Elise Mitchel, Three-time CEO | Leadership Strategist | C-Suite Consultant and Coach | Keynote Speaker  Unable to join due to storms in Nashville which have cut off her power  Planning a separate session on leadership with Elise
  3. 3. What we will be covering today  Where we are and where we might be – Richard  Growing Fees during lock down and in a world with Covid-19 – Crispin  Real Life Lessons from an Agency Head – Juergen  Questions and Answers
  4. 4. Before we start  We believe that you CAN do more than survive  Those that:  Analyse  Make swift evidence based decisions  Execute robustly  Learn and refine  Clearly demonstrate the value they deliver to the client’s BUSINESS  Can do well despite the unprecedented operating environment
  5. 5. Where we are and where we might be
  6. 6. Operating environment  We are in the same storm but different boats:  Not all agencies impacted equally  Certain sectors hit hard:  Hospitality  Restaurants  Travel/holidays  Physical retail  Excluding food  Others more robust:  Technology  Pharma  Demand for service switched:  Up:  Crisis communications  Internal communications  Customer relations  Down:  Influencers  Events (!)  Media relations
  7. 7. Operating environment  NO Government has a full plan:  All planning as they go and responding to events as best they can  Those that had prepared in better place to act effectively  Most economies and jobs being ‘propped up’ by Government funds:  Big decision will be when and how to withdraw these funds  Business confidence is dropping:  Little or no visibility of future revenues and operational constraints
  8. 8. Keeping the Boat Afloat
  9. 9. Short term actions  Cash really is king  Detailed monthly/week by week cash flow  Opening and closing bank balance  People, people, people  Lead  Motivate  Clarity and consistency  Review who is critical and who may not be post lock down  Reforecast people costs accordingly in conjunction with new fee forecast  Fee forecast:  Build a model for assessing the likelihood of clients continuing to pay and at what level  Government support:  If you haven’t already become an expert become one  Landlords:  Offices 2nd biggest fixed cost  If you’ve haven’t already get in touch and discuss options  Good or bad best to know the reality  Look after yourself, times are tough:  Read v TV  Exercise that works for you  Moderate booze  Talk to your peers – work your trade association  Get outside if you can
  10. 10. The ‘New Normal’
  11. 11. A view on the new normal  Not impossible but it will be harder  Global shrinkage of economies:  PR tends to follow economic cycles  Nervous clients:  Growth in projects v retainers  Reduced number of pitches  Focus on demonstration of outcomes from PR activity:  Evaluation will need to be robust and outcome focused not just output  Client will be expecting and need business benefits for every $ of budget spent  AMEC Integrated Evaluation Framework (free) - https://amecorg.com/amecframework/  Increased competitors:  New start-ups as a result of redundancies by agencies
  12. 12. A view on the new normal  Increased discounting:  Commercially illiterate agencies reducing prices to win pitches  Will need to demonstrate value to justify sensible fee levels  Growing demand for creative campaigns that make the budget work harder  In-house teams  Smaller  Or bigger with growth in-sourcing  Depends on client culture and perceived importance of Communications  Impact on earn-outs for agency sales
  13. 13. Growing fees post lockdown and in a world alongside Covid19 CRISPIN MANNERS MAY 5, 2020 FOR FURTHER ADVICE CONTACT CRISPIN.MANNERS@ONVA.CO.UK #EMERGESTRONGER
  14. 14. The power of positive thinking
  15. 15. The time to adapt is now  We need clients to see that stopping doing things will mean they emerge weaker from the crisis  They need to make a turn – adapt in a way that makes them more relevant to their audiences in today’s world And with stronger bonds for after the crisis
  16. 16. Time to be ‘Progressive’  HBR article identifies 4 responses to a recession/crisis  Cutting your way out of trouble doesn’t work  Promoting your way out of trouble doesn’t work  Most successful is the ‘Progressive’ approach – companies that become more relevant and invest in smarter ways to satisfy customers
  17. 17. Sell on WHY and HOW not WHAT
  18. 18. The importance of Purpose/WHY  Now is the time to refresh your Purpose  It explains WHY a client should buy from your agency  It shows your are aligned with their Purpose  It cuts through competitor noise by differentiating you from the competition  It gives your people reasons to join and to stay  We want to change the world by changing the way we eat  Our Purpose is to help to reduce the obesity burden on the NHS by helping food companies to inspire consumers to adopt healthier lifestyles
  19. 19. Understanding how buyer roles and emotions impact the way you sell now  The ECONOMIC buyer – cares about what you will do for the business  With every cost scrutinised NOTHING is going to happen unless you help solve a current business pain  USER buyers – care about what you will do for their job  Unless you make their life easy or make them look good – help protect their job – they won’t endorse your proposal
  20. 20. Demonstrating business value  When was the last time you heard a CEO say – what my business needs right now more than anything is some great press coverage  Right now they’ll be saying things like  We need to kick-start our revenue  We need to keep our customers loyal  We need to keep our people motivated  We need to show we’re ready to meet post lock down demand
  21. 21. Don’t wait for them to come to you
  22. 22. Detailed, targeted preparation pays off
  23. 23. Make them believe you can deliver the business value they need
  24. 24. The promise of options creates the connection you need
  25. 25. Then keep the connection alive  Deliver a proposal to work up the best campaign  Make it easy to buy – no retainers just a campaign to deliver the value they need  Then seed in what needs to be done to succeed in life ALONGSIDE Covid
  26. 26. Winners and losers in a world with Covid19  Losers  Sell on WHAT  Slow to adapt  Sell on activity and time  Reactive sales process  Discount to try and win – race to the bottom  Winners  Keep their best team together  Sell the WHY and HOW of the agency  Fast to adapt services AND campaigns  Sell on business value  Beacon of positivity  Proactive sales  Have a strategy for the 3 phases of Covid19  With lockdown  Alongside the virus  After the virus
  27. 27. Current landscape 1. The world has been changed forever 2. Businesses will not be able to operate as before for a long time – 12-18 months 3. By the time they can, a new reality will have emerged 4. Clients and prospects are choosing which of the 4 behaviours from HBR Roaring out of recession, to adopt. a. Many are choosing ‘Defensive’ and trying to cut their way out of trouble 5. Many client personnel have lost belief and think nothing is possible right now - so put a block on ideas 6. Every cost is being scrutinised at the most senior level within clients 7. Unless activity EXPLICITLY delivers value to a client now, they won’t buy it 8. Services will need to be online and virtual for the foreseeable future BUT they can still be direct 9. Protracted period without vaccine changes what clients expect – moving almost everything online – agencies could lose out to digital/online native agencies 10. More competition – who compete on price – new sole traders made redundant from agencies – agencies struggling who cut price to win 11. The economy has declined – so more competition chasing a smaller pie
  28. 28. Jürgen H. Gangoly  25 years as Consultant in the communications industry  CEO & Partner, The Skills Group, Vienna, Austria (www.skills.at)  ICCO Regional President, Europe (www.iccopr.com)  Agency Management, Quality, Corporate Comms, Public Affairs, Crisis Communications, CSR & Sustainability  Emergency proven: former Voluntary Firemen & Fire Dpt. Chief  Scuba Diver, Underwater photographer, Shark friend ;-)
  29. 29. How I responded to lock-down?
  30. 30. How I responded to lock-down?  (Luckily) Early preparations for home-office  Enlarge internet bandwidth and server infrastructure  Additional security measures, Employee trainings and guidelines  Increase emotional client contact (more personal calls, less e-mails)  Offer technical support – for clients and employees (incl. their families)  Join forces with suppliers  Present new services (Zoom & Skype Interview trainings, home office camera equipment, consulting and set-up etc.)  Additional resources and time for internal communications and employee facilitation (and animation)  Give perspective, be generous, provide a safety net
  31. 31. What I have learnt so far…  Clients  The bigger the companies, the less they care (financially) for their suppliers  Industry Clusters in Agencies – and too big single clients can knock-out entire departments in a crisis situation  Diversity rules also when it comes to Client structures  External cost-cutting will stay for a longer time  Long-term planning in PR is gone – as long-term budgets are „The character proves itself in the crisis.“
  32. 32. What I have learnt so far…  People – three third rule of employees and home office  1st third: Works like a clock and as in normal agency life  2nd third: Shows special engagement and talents not even visible before  3rd third: Has severe problems with new working environment (technically, organizational, mental)  Agency managers become „animators“ and „facilitators“  Take special care for the silent ones  Entertainment and Fun  Learning opportunities
  33. 33. What I have learnt so far…  Services  Communications Consultancies need to become – or team up with – technical service providers (Cams, ISPs etc.)  Distant training and consulting services launched work and pay very well  Provide more information and offer direct „personal“ contact and support for „private“ issues of client in home office (connectivity, schooling, supply etc.) – they love you for that.
  34. 34. How I am collaborating with peers?
  35. 35. How I am collaborating with peers?  Daily team (video) calls  Weekly management video calls  Weekly all-agency jour fixes with room for personal issues (home situation etc.)  Bi-weekly calls of CEOs / PR agency managers (CMS quality-cerfified) – very openly talking all business issues, legal etc.  „Agency Experts“ as future consulting offer at the market – coming soon  Very important for the mood: 3-times a week „virtual pub“ meetings with friends and befriended clients and business partners
  36. 36. How I am collaborating with peers…  Daily team (video) calls  Weekly management video calls  Weekly all-agency jour fixes with room for personal issues (home situation etc.)  Bi-weekly calls of CEOs / PR agency managers (CMS quality cerfified)  „Agency Experts“ as future consulting offer at the market  Very important for the mood: 3-times a week „virtual pub“ meetings with friends and befriended clients
  37. 37. How I am preparing for a post lock-down world?
  38. 38. How I am preparing for post lock- down world.  Developing new working models for employees. Home office demands and needs will not go away.  Positive: Growth limits and expensive agency office space will never be a problem anymore  Push digitization and digital client integration into agency system (less vice versa)  Plan and live with de-centralized PR and networking events  Always think about stakeholder‘s living and working conditions  New PR strategies, PR stunts and creativity needed
  39. 39. Be prepared for the unexpected…thanks! Questions welcome!
  40. 40. A few thoughts on leadership RICHARD HOUGHTON
  41. 41. Freedom in a framework  Create a framework within which team thrives  Feel they can take ownership  Have necessary resources  Aim is to drive:  Morale  Culture  Commercial success
  42. 42. Management v Leadership Management Leadership More logical More emotional About today About tomorrow More detailed More big picture Control Empowerment More cautious More bold Avoiding risk Taking (controlled) risk ‘Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.’ Stephen Covey
  43. 43. Leadership model to consider Model the Way Inspire a Shared Vision Challenge the Process Enable others to Act Encourage the Heart Kouzes & Posner: 5 Practices of Exemplary Leadership - The Leadership Challenge
  44. 44. Questions and Answers
  45. 45. A final thought “…the industry that survives this will stronger, smarter, leaner, more agile and more creative…” Maja Pawinska-Sims, Associate Editor, EMEA at Provoke Media (Holmes)
  46. 46. If you would like copies of the slides please email: richard@agencydoctor.biz
  47. 47. PRCA COVID-19 Taskforce: Building a survival strategy for your agency 5TH MAY 2020

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