Agencies must 'adapt or die' to stay relevant

Early in the Brad Pitt movie Moneyball, his character Billy Beane says prophetically to one of his colleagues, "Adapt or die."

Early in the Brad Pitt movie Moneyball, his character Billy Beane says prophetically to one of his colleagues, “Adapt or die.” The Oakland A's, the baseball team he runs, begins to work to leverage analytics, statistics, and technology to assemble a championship team with a small payroll and limited resources, compared to their larger, more well-funded competitors.

While pervasive instability is certainly uncomfortable to experience, in some ways it puts firms like WCG at an advantage. Public relations professionals have long understood the many parts of the marketing mix, working across multiple departments in client organizations. Likewise, PR firms have used their nimbleness to innovate and stay ahead, oftentimes producing results more efficiently than the competition.

PR firms in general are quite adept at leveraging change, especially those who have shifted their models and strategies in recognition of the importance of digital, online, social, and mobile communications. We are increasingly seeing the role of communications, and PR pros within companies and organizations, taking on a broader remit than ever before because communications are happening online in real-time where multiple stakeholders are seeing them all at once.

Organizations and companies can no longer communicate in silos and increasingly have to speak with one unified voice — something the PR profession is particularly well-trained and suited to help them do well.

Inherently, PR professionals have always had to be adaptable “jacks of all trades,” adept at multiple elements of the marketing mix and working across organizations on a variety of communications challenges. And they have had to do so under tight budgets producing ROI more cost effectively than other types of professionals and consultancies.

They also have spent a lot of time in the line of fire dealing with time-sensitive crises, having to respond in real time to stakeholders, media, and customers.  Responsiveness and transparency with relative speed and immediacy have always been qualities the best PR professionals possess. Never have those been more important than in the new social and digital media age.

Jim Weiss is CEO of WCG.

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