Fiona Joyce, Blue Rubicon: Flexible thinking required

The Exchange exists to reinvent ways of working across the marketing mix.

Fiona Joyce, Blue Rubicon: Flexible thinking required
Fiona Joyce, Blue Rubicon: Flexible thinking required

Over the past five years, there has been a resurgence of integrated communications briefs and there is no doubt that this has created greater scope for more interesting and impactful work.

But the desire for genuinely integrated communications is nothing new. Debate about its value and achievability has ebbed and flowed over the past 20 years: from the call for the one-stop-shop of the late 80s, to the 90s desire for ever more niche specialisms, loosely bolted together in the all-agency status meeting. The theory is powerful. But there is still an element of the mind being willing, while when it comes to who owns the strategy or biggest share of the budget, the flesh is definitely weaker. It takes more than writing a single brief for multiple agencies to crack it.

Fortunately, with the declining power of traditional channels and the ever more technically empowered consumer, the divide between marketing disciplines is blurring, and at speed. This provides the opportunity for much more flexible thinking and a new impetus for genuine integration. But it requires better knowledge across disciplines and, equally importantly, improved respect for the different expertise around the integrated comms table.

Blue Rubicon was founded on the principle of joined-up thinking, looking at a client's problem or opportunity through an audience-centric lens to find a compelling insight and overarching strategy. Not simply a PR-led solution. This requires broad minds and working in an inclusive and collaborative way with other agencies.

We have gone a long way in our first decade to achieve this - changing the way PR is used and redefining its value. But in a digital world we need to constantly seek new inspiration and recognise the need to reinvent ways of working across the marketing mix. This led to the birth of The Exchange.

We conceived The Exchange to do exactly what it says on the tin - exchange ideas, ways of working and experiences across different types of agencies to create more knowledgeable, experienced teams. And ultimately, more powerful solutions for our clients. At its core, the Exchange is an experience-led training programme that brings together a consortium of independent, best-in-class agencies with no reservations about breaking down discipline or channel boundaries. In its initial phase, it combines the power of Blue Rubicon, Albion, Amplify and Krow. In the near future we will be adding a media planning agency and anticipate some of our clients taking part.

Our joint aim is to help our teams look through the lens of another agency to enhance the way we work. A core part of The Exchange is giving our teams an in-depth view of how different disciplines look at a challenge. This allows us to find new ways to create content-rich platforms that drive deep engagement. We can also explore the best way to measure impact to improve the mixes of activity.

On an informal level, The Exchange provides a network of peer-to-peer contacts to act as sounding boards, invite to brainstorms and simply create inspiration and shared knowledge. We have open-house drop-in sessions with inspirational speakers, as well as more formal shared training.

The Exchange also provides opportunities for mentoring with very experienced senior people from across the marketing mix to explore personal development from a broad perspective. Critically, it ensures we attract and retain the best people by offering unrivalled diversity of experience and career development.

Fiona Joyce is a partner at Blue Rubicon

THE EXCHANGE: OUR KNOWLEDGE SHARE PARTNERS

Krow - an independent communications company which produces commercially driven communications solutions that trigger behaviour change. Recent work has included a collaboration with the music industry, a Channel 4 TV series and an award-winning TV and online 'sitcom' for Fiat.

Albion - an integrated advertising agency with digital at its heart; the agency partners entrepreneurs and intrepreneurs (innovators within organisations) to create game-changing ideas for businesses, brands and communications.

Amplify - a marketing agency that tells brand stories through experience and amplification.

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