I'm not a marketing professional. I don't have an agency background or a degree in marketing or communications. Nonetheless, I get to work with some of the brightest agencies around, which gives me a unique vantage point as an industry shift is taking place.
PR has always had an agile quality, but now, more than ever, it's critical to be flexible and adaptable as the industry changes. As “big data” has emerged as a buzzword, it has also become a concept on just about every brand's radar. PR professionals must find ways to extract, gather, and evaluate data in order to reinforce the recommendations they're making and actions they're taking on behalf of the brands they represent.
I've noticed that agencies tend to fall into three camps on the “change spectrum.” There are the leaders at the front of the pack. They love and embrace the challenge. They are the early adopters, leading the way and trying to figure out what they can do with this next.
At the other end of the spectrum, you have the laggers. This group is resistant or oblivious to any change that is going on. Their clients may not be complaining, but what lagging agencies may not realize is that their clients are shopping around for someone else.
The majority of agencies, however, are simply struggling. They know a change is happening, but they're not quite sure what to do with it. They want to adapt, but they're searching for advice and guidance before they take the next step.
Where you fall on the change spectrum has little to do with agency size. I have seen large, established agencies lose big clients to small shops simply because small agencies are more nimble. As such, they're reacting at the speed of the client. Though they may not have massive teams at their disposal, they're adopting and adapting more quickly, pushing hard at the front of the pack.
There was a time when marketing analytics fell under the jurisdiction of one or two people. Today, agencies are developing entire teams and divisions for digital strategy, and information extracted from big data is at the core of that strategy.
And, keep in mind: It's critical that you stay at the leading edge of your market, because at the end of the day, if you are not delivering, you're getting replaced.
Dave Johnson is VP of agency sales and service at Marketwired.