Inside PR 407: PR generalists versus specialists

Martin here and it’s a jam-packed episode this week. But first a milestone: it’s been nine years since Terry Fallis and David Jones started Inside PR and we want to give Terry and Dave a big congratulations and bigger thank you! And thanks to all of you for sticking with us. If you’re interested, head to the archives and listen to IPR #1.

Back to 2015…On today’s show, we talk about three things:

1. When to hire a PR firm – and when you should wait
Gini wrote a post about a startup client whose product wasn’t ready when they hired her firm, so any traffic the Arment Dietrich team drove to the site led to customer frustration since the business wasn’t ready for…um business. Moral: sometimes entrepreneurs need to put the brakes on their PR efforts until they have something to show, solid goals and can afford it.

2. PR generalist or specialist – where is the industry heading?
According to the Holmes Report Card, in recent years PR agencies have been hiring specialists over generalists, similar to the way things operate in the ad and marketing industries. However, data now shows the generalist may still have a role, especially as it pertains to developing strategy. Thanks to Shel Holtz for suggesting this idea.

3. LinkedIn buys Lynda.com – are jobs posting now going to be linked to skills training?
LinkedIn’s become a publisher, job source, networking space and virtual rolodex and now it’s moving into training with its $1.5 billion purchase of training site, Lynda.com. See a job you want but lack some of the skills. LI may have a training program for you. Thanks to Alison Garwood-Jones for suggesting this topic.

What do you think?

We’d love to hear from you.

Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected], join the FIR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoseph Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter.

And we have a favor to ask: if you like this podcast, please rate us on iTunes.

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Thank you to the people behind Inside PR.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

Inside PR is produced by Ashlea McGrath.

Inside PR 397: The boss leaves and where does that leave you?

What obligation do creative agency founders and owners owe to their employees? Gini Dietrich, Martin Waxman and I, all current or past agency owners, discuss this in the wake of a recent high profile creative company closing.

Teehan+Lax recently announced that the partners had accepted jobs at Facebook – and that Teehan would therefore be shutting its doors. Good for them. But what about the employees? Did the fact that dozens of creative people – the people who helped the partners realize their dream – were being left behind detract from the positives of this story? Are creative agencies simply the expressions of their principals? Or are they in fact the product of the entire team? And what does the move of agency principals inside a previously-client company mean about the viability of agencies in the era in which nimbleness must be married to creativity?

Gini, Martin and I kick around our views about the arc of agency life and the types of things that we and agency principals and agency owners should or may not consider when making the next move.

Martin points out that we have become used to employees moving frequently from job to job. Many creative people today base their happiness on the challenge of the projects they are working on today. What they did last week mattered last week, not this week. What their title is isn’t so important. Where they stand in the hierarchy isn’t their motivator. Challenging creative work drives them. And if they can’t get it where they are, they will quickly and without hesitation hop over to another company that offers that to them. And then they will move again after that.

So, should we be surprised if people who are founding and running creative agencies have the same approach to the world? Probably not. So, we shouldn’t be surprised if this isn’t the last time that agency principals proclaim, “We didn’t get into this to build a company to last. We got into it to be challenged. And the challenges are elsewhere. So, we’re shutting down our company to go and do something else.”

And good for them. But that still leaves the first question. What obligation do they have to the employees who believed in them and invested part of their own careers in the success of the founders’ dream?

Gini suggests that an employer’s obligation to the employees is real, but limited. “But you have to make decisions that are good for the business first, and for the founders second. Without the founders, there is no business. So, the founders have to take care of themselves. This is a difficult thing to do, particularly when you want to do what is best for employees.”

This leads to situations in which it is difficult to untangle what really happened in order to discern how an employer has treated employees. We may see the end result – people looking for jobs. But we cannot get the complete picture of the relationships between employer and employee. “There’s always three sides to the story,” says Gini. “Their side. Our side. And the truth somewhere in the middle.”

But at the end of the day, Gini believes, owners are entitled to put their interests ahead of their employees. “Sometimes you have to make a decision that’s not best for the employees. Sometimes you have to make a decision that’s best for you and your family.”

And that’s only half of today’s episode. In the back half, we move on to discuss the importance of communicating these changes clearly, honestly and transparently. We hope that you’ll listen to the episode and find something to think about here.

Context

If you want to get a fuller sense of the Teehan+Lax announcement and the conversation it occasioned, here’s a set of articles that provide an excellent jumping off point.

And Now, For Our Next Act, the Teehan+Lax partners announce that they are joining Facebook and shutting down their agency

David Crow reflects on the announcement and what it means for the partners, the local creative scene and the employees. Read the comments as well as the post to get a sense of the debates that followed in the wake of the announcement.

Brian Krogsgard throws attention on the fact that this isn’t good for everyone. What about the employees?

Jon Lay argues that that innovative design firms can still thrive.

Ev Williams reflects on when and why to sell your company.

 

 

Inside PR 3.55: Agency or in-house? That is our question.

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Here we are with our second show on the FIR podcast network.

And this week, we’re not talking about Toronto Mayor Ford’s – er…rather unique – approach to communications. That will come soon.

Gini introduces our topic, which she found via the Vocus content suite she’s testing out; a story about how Visa fired its PR agencies and took the work in house.

Is this a trend?
Gini hopes this won’t continue, but thinks there’s a chance it might. So she’s looking for more signs and wonders if other larger corporations will follow suit or not.

Joe references Dell’s experiment with a purpose-built agency that they started and then abandoned. He doesn’t believe the move to in-house is going to be a trend because agencies bring a broad outside approach, ideas and creativity that is a benefit for clients.

Martin agrees and says the external viewpoint offers a fresh perspective you may not have considered and gives the example that often times what seems like big news to a client may not be to the world and it’s an agency’s job to offer solid counsel and say the things you may not want to hear.

Agencies can also provide insights and analytics that help clients understand whether or not a campaign is a success and why.

We also talk about Twitter’s new Custom Timelines, content streams where you can follow a topic or hashtag and embed the feed on your website or blog. It’s something you could do on Hootsuite within the platform, but now on Twitter, it’s a publicly sharable feed.

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We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected], join the Inside PR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoseph Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

Inside PR is part of the FIR Podcast Network.

Inside PR is produced by Kristine D’Arbelles and Ashlea LeCompte.

Inside PR 2.55: The value of Counselors Academy

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Gini, Joe and Martin are back at PRSA’s Counselors Academy Conference in Lake Las Vegas for the second of our two shows.

For those who may not be familiar with the conference, Martin tells us the annual conference is all about the business of PR and invites PR agency leaders across the globe to join the conversation.

Joe says if you run an agency, there are many great reasons to attend and then turns the mic over to some of our colleagues in attendance for their perspectives.

Lisa Gerber says she got into PR with no clue about the business and Counselors helped her raise the bar on her own performance.

Johna Burke finds value because it helps people evolve beyond tactics like managing accounts. This shift is what’s going to propel the profession forward.

Tom Garrity enjoys peer to peer conversation and gaining business insights.

Jean Walcher came first to learn, but this year wants to be reinvigorated by the open and intelligent conversations.

Joe mentions that 3-am feeling when you’re thinking about your agency, you can’t sleep and wonder what you’re going to do next. You may be facing one of those difficult situations where it’s tough to talk to the team. Counselors can be a remarkable source of advice. Meet other smart people who freely share their learnings.

Martin says that when he started at Counselors, there were a lot more multinational agencies but now the organization is geared to independents and entrepreneurs.  He references first learning about social media from Giovanni Rodriguez at Counselors at a session both he and Joe attended. But they didn’t get to know each other until a year or so later when both realized how much of a seminal moment that was.

Gini talks about the networking and how you can have open conversations with your competitors and discuss issues like profitability and margins and other things PR folks don’t learn in school.

At this point, Jean poses a question: Do you reward employees for bringing in new business?

Gini says she’s tried many types of incentives. She recently hired someone by incenting them to create their own job; the person is responsible for developing proposals, closing the business and she has goals based on profitability.

Joe attended a CA session led by Rob Adler on motivating employees and says the same question came up.  One agency gives 5 per cent of a new client’s fee revenue to the staff person that brought it in – for as long as they have the client.

Martin says it can be difficult to figure out the right kind of incentive, because if new business is being generated by the agency leadership and you’re not paying it out, the incentive becomes like an empty promise.

That brings us to an end for this show. Counselors Academy’s next conference is May 6 to 8, 2012 in New Orleans. Disclosure: Martin is conference chair.  You may want to check out the website for an overview of the other programs they offer throughout the year.

Do you have an idea for a topic you would like us to discuss? Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected], join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoe Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

This week’s episode was produced by Kristine Simpson.

Inside PR 2.51: Stepping up

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This week we start with a listener comment – a tweet, really – from @autumnthompson who asks what a new person like her can do to further her career. In past episodes, we covered advice for students looking for their first job, but we haven’t discussed how to move ahead in your career. So thanks Autumn.

Joe starts by saying you’re never too young to stand out: be curious, listen, learn and talk about what you know and build your network. The people you meet at the beginning of your career are going to be with you throughout your work life. And always strive to do your best and be outstanding.

Gini adds that you should use social networks to get outside your four walls and find people to connect to inside and outside your agency and develop relationships.

Martin suggests you should begin those relationships early.  Just because you’re connecting with a potential employer doesn’t mean you’re looking for a job.  Martin also references an article by Susan Balcom Walton in the Spring edition of PRSA’s Strategist, entitled ‘Demonstrating value to boomer bosses: a memo to millenials’, that offers helpful advice on navigating the work force during the early part of one’s career (subscription required).

Martin asks Gini about her recent blog post on things organizations should consider when they’re entering the social arena. Gini says the post is based on a five-step process she and her team take clients through as they help develop a strategy.  They begin by listening, then assess where a company’s customers and prospects are. This is followed by engagement, measurement and refinement.

Joe suggests including two more items at the front end. He encourages businesses to start by asking: is there a business case; and does social media make sense within the corporate objectives? And then they need to look at the questions around governance.

Martin says companies should establish a social media policy for staff from the beginning, making sure people know and understand the parameters. Joe thinks social media policies should go beyond responding and should include privacy, security, intellectual property, accessibility, liability, data jurisdiction and communications/languages policy.  According to Gini, this really isn’t any different than an employee code of conduct for real-life events.

And that’s a wrap for this week.  Next week, it’s the first anniversary for Gini, Joe and Martin.  Any ideas on how we should celebrate?

Do you have comments? Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected], join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoe Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

This week’s episode was produced by Kristine Simpson.

Inside PR 2.19 – Wednesday, September 8, 2010

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Comments? Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected], visit the Inside PR Blubrry site, leave us a comment on the Inside PR show blog or message us @inside_pr on Twitter.

This week on Inside PR, MartinGini and Joe discuss Terry Fallis‘ new book, The High Road, why measurement matters to Third Tuesday and how to deal when employees leave.

0:24 Martin opens the show.

1:00 Martin announces that Terry’s new book, The High Road, will be launching today!

1:44 Joe adds that if you pick it up, to do so in the e-book form.

4:33 Third Tuesday Toronto is kicking off it’s 5th season will a full-day conference, Third Tuesday Measurement Matters.

7:03 Gini mentions she recently saw Tony Hsieh from Zappos speak.

8:20 Martin introduces this week’s topic: how to deal with an employee leaving. He shares his story about his business partner, Louise Armstrong, making an exit from PR.

12:03: Joe asks Gini if she’s lost a main partner before.

13:40: Joe shares his perspective.

23:19 Martin closes the show.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

This week’s episode was produced by Yasmine Kashefi.

Inside PR 2.11 – Wednesday, July 7, 2010

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Comments? Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected], visit the Inside PR Blubrry site, leave us a comment on the Inside PR show blog or message us @inside_pr on Twitter.

This week on Inside PR,  Joe and Gini discuss the rising popularity of social media monitoring tools and whether the internet really is over.

0:28 Joe opens the show.

1:50 Joe talks about the summer slowdown.

6:12 Joe asks Inside PR listeners if summers are slower at their workplace and what they do to manage the lighter workload while keeping morale high.

7:10 Joe talks about the show’s first topic: Sysomos’ recent acquisition by Marketwire. He mentions a recent post by Dave Fleet about other social media monitoring tool acquisitions over the past year.

8:30 Gini talks about the various social media monitoring tools her business uses.

10:10 Joe shares his favourite social media monitoring tools.

17:12 Gini talks about Prince’s outrageous comment “The internet is over”.

21:45 Joe wraps up the show.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

This week’s episode was produced by Yasmine Kashefi.

Inside PR #190 – Wednesday, February 3, 2010

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Comments? Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected], visit the Inside PR Blubrry site, leave us a comment on the Inside PR show blog or message us @inside_pr on Twitter.

This week on Inside PR, Terry, Dave and Martin welcome listener comments and discuss the best ways to prepare for the departure of a senior team member.

00:29 Dave opens the show.

01:22 Martin introduces a comment from Laurie Smith of CNW.  (See the whole comment on the blog).

01:47 Terry reads a comment from Jennifer Grinder.

08:50 Martin shares a neat analogy for Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter via @julito77

10:21 Terry introduces this week’s topic: How can PR agencies minimize the impact of losing a senior team member?

23:08 Terry starts the -30- segment.

32:25 Terry wraps up the show.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

This week’s episode was produced by Sarah Laister.

Inside PR #183 – Wednesday, December 16, 2009

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Comments? Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected], visit the Inside PR Blubrry site, leave us a comment on the Inside PR show blog or message us @inside_pr on Twitter.

This week on Inside PR, Terry Fallis, David Jones and Martin Waxman discuss the ways PR agencies approach the pitching process.

00:28 Dave opens the show.

02:24 A special announcement: Terry has signed a publishing deal with McClelland & Stewart for the sequel to The Best Laid Plans.  Congratulations Terry!

04:33 Producer’s note – to see the hideous sweaters the guys are talking about, go to: wearetightknit.ca

05:45 Terry introduces this week’s topic: how PR agencies approach the pitching process to win new business.

30:08 Dave kicks off this week’s -30- segment.

33:04 Terry closes the show.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

This week’s episode was produced by Sarah Laister.

Inside PR #178 – Wednesday, November 11, 2009

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Comments? Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected].com, visit the Inside PR Blubrry site, leave us a comment on the Inside PR show blog or message us @inside_pr on Twitter.

This week on Inside PR Terry Fallis, David Jones and Martin Waxman discuss PR agencies, then and now.

00:28 Terry opens the show.

00:48 Terry congratulates Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson for producing their 500th episode of For Immediate Release.

02:03 Terry notes that Dave tweeted about a recent ranking of Canada’s podcasts by Sean McGaughey.

04:13 Terry introduces this week’s topic: PR agencies, then and now.  The topic is broken down into three discussion points: finance, operations and the work itself (in that order).

27:00 Terry introduces the -30- segment, which includes a Ron Burgundy reference this week.

30:08 Dave closes the show.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

This week’s episode was produced by Sarah Laister.