Publicis Groupe created a working group, within its media division VivaKi, to bring together the best services for clients in the social media space by collaborating.
The group, the result of an over year-long audit of the company's global social media assets, includes Publicis' flagship PR firm MS&L Group. It also calls on the expertise of several sister agencies, including digital firms Digitas and Razorfish and media shops Starcom MediaVest Group and ZenithOptimedia. “It is about bringing together Publicis' best clients and best thinking from the media companies, the digital firms and from PR to help clients address the change in media in this conversation economy,” says Jim Tsokanos, president of the Americas for MS&L Group. “We are working together with our sister agencies to provide a solution that is best in class.”
The more collaborative approach comes at a time when agencies in different disciplines – media, advertising, digital, direct, and PR – have been fighting for their share of social media work. “At Publicis, it is about taking a holistic approach to servicing clients and putting them at the center. It is not about a P&L, which prohibits you from bringing in the best resources, thinking and ideas,” says Tsokanos. “Collaboration is the key. Agencies that can work well together for their clients are the ones that will win in this new world.”
MS&L already services some of its biggest accounts like Citibank and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) using the collaborative model. “In the case of UL, for instance, we're the lead creative agency in terms of their digital strategy but we bring in MediaVest to work with us on the digital planning on the paid side and Digitas on the content creation side,” says Tsokanos. “Enterprise today understands that paid media comes in three forms: paid, earned, and created. To help companies navigate this world, they need all that expertise.”
Jonathan Nelson, CEO of Omnicom Digital, says some collaboration happens across its PR network in terms of social media execution, particularly because campaigns can cross so many different disciplines. “But look, there is always going to be silos. The clients all wish it was transparent and they could just go to one place and write one check and have the best people from everywhere,” he says. “The reality, though, is that everyone comes at it from their own point of view.”
He says that unique viewpoint means he doesn't, for instance, dictate what social media management and measurement tools a PR agency should use for their specific client base. “I won't mandate what they use unless something becomes big enough, so right now all I request is that they use something,” he says.
Agencies also need to be mindful of the competitive nature of client business, says Harris Diamond, CEO of Constituency Management Group and Weber Shandwick. “We share ideas – case studies, what's working in terms of social media – but we are very protective of the competitive nature of our client relationships and understand those issues. So by definition, the agencies can be siloed in nature,” Diamond tells PRWeek.
But he says PR firms have, and certainly continue to, bring on agency partners within the holding company but on a carefully considered case-by-by case basis. “There are times when you will need to bring in another agency given whatever the needs are at that moment. For instance, we have firms that specialize in mobile and measurement,” he says. “But ultimately it's not so much the PR agency but the client that needs to make a judgement call as to who they should partner with to bring those resources in play.”