Friday, June 3, 2011

Creative Huddles, Get Your Agencies Together

By Joanna Kulesa
I’m sure you have numerous creative agencies helping execute on your marketing and communications plan. Most CMOs have the likes of an ad agency, web design firm, digital marketing firm, and PR firm, just to name a few. In my experience, these teams are full of free thinkers, in addition to hardcore executers. Do you make a practice of getting your creative agencies together in a room? If not, you may be missing out on some serious brainpower and “cross-pollination” of ideas.

In general, marketing executives have become really good about integrating their programs. It seems like a no-brainer that marketing agencies would be brought together and integrated, too. Yet in my 15 years of running PR agencies in Silicon Valley, I’ve only had one CMO bring us all together Rick Jackson, a top notch CMO now heading marketing for VMware, who intuitively understood that the sum could be even greater than the parts.

From an agency perspective this type of gathering was incredibly insightful and stimulating. Not only were we able to sync up on the marketing strategy for the year and understand each agency’s role, but we also got to ideate across functional areas with some amazing talent and the collaborative output was undeniable.

If you’re going to consider a creative agency gathering, I’ll leave you with these tips from a participant’s perspective.

➢ Ask each agency to consider their own plans, and how they might impact or be integrated into other participating agency’s work, e.g., digital marketing firm walk in the shoes of the PR firm.
➢ In getting everyone ‘on point’ on strategy and plans, try and resist the “death by PowerPoint” format. Nothing kills the creative juices faster than 30 roadmap slides.
➢ Include an interactive exchange, or a game, halfway through. Getting the team interacting, talking, laughing and generally warmed up will make for looser ideating and more fun.
➢ Avoid too much structure, which can stifle conversation, and consider fueling the fire by offering beer/wine three quarters into the session. Keep the environment comfortable and social – emphasize that no one is here to outperform others.
➢ Continue the conversation. There should be ongoing communication between your creative partners so that the ideas continue to flow, ensuring one message, one story and at the end of the day one big impact.
➢ Make this exchange of ideas a quarterly or annual event – I guarantee all parties will look forward to it and come away more energized than before!

Joanna Kulesa is principal of Kulesa Faul, in San Mateo, CA. Kulesa Faul focuses on public relations, social media and communications strategies for enterprise software and consumer technologies companies—

1 comment:

Delia Ene said...

Great idea. The only problem I see is that sometimes the agencies are competing against each other - the PR agency may well have a team that can do ADs or web development.
Plus, what do you do when the agencies are in different countries? Difficult to bring them together and video conferencing is not the same as face to face.
Not trying to discredit, great idea as I said. Was just wondering how you negotiate the cons.