Those who will be most successful in business, any business, have the deepest understanding about changes in the marketplace - changes that not only affect them, but their partners and clients, too.
In this issue we have a strong sampling of that kind of foresight.
Cramer-Krasselt has shaped its own business model to reflect trends in the PR business - it has no silos whether from a practice or financial perspective. In an industry where all agree that a successful initiative must be integrated, the firm's internal structure reflects the same dynamic. Its leadership has prepared for a future where a one-stop-shop offering is vital to business growth.
Another agency evolving with the marketplace is Taylor, a midsize firm with clients including Procter & Gamble and MasterCard. Taylor engaged in some blunt conversations with clients and faced the hard fact that there was little differentiating it from competitors. Their clients began to want more, specifically a strategic partner. Taylor's business model would hinder its ability to evolve into what key clients needed, so it boldly opted to drop 31 clients. Moving into the role of strategic counselor for fewer clients gets the agency to the table at the start of the creative process.
The ability to effectively gauge a shifting marketplace's needs extends beyond the agency side. This issue's Newsmaker, Kate James, CCO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, talked about the key role its media partnerships play.
Highlighting the ongoing challenges developing countries face is vital to the foundation's efforts, but is increasingly hard in a media landscape struggling with its own challenges. News organizations have cut foreign correspondent roles to the bone and barely have enough resources to cover global issues from a breaking-news perspective. That reality prompted the Gates Foundation to develop a grant program that has provided $50 million to date to media outlets to cover issues impacting developing nations - a commitment very rarely seen, especially considering how philanthropic organizations must fight for every dollar.
Today, the only marketplace certainty is change, which will likely come faster and in ways that require bold, sometimes risky moves that reshape the foundation of agency businesses and require investments that elevate relationships with partners to a much higher level - it's the price of remaining relevant.
Bernadette Casey is the senior editor of PRWeek. She can be contacted at email@example.com.