Quality or Quantity? The Evolution of Agencies in 2020

I can’t put my finger on the driving force, but for this PR agency veteran, it feels like we are in a constant state of change in how we provide services to our clients.

In college, (only yesterday, it seems) we were told that public relations, marketing and advertising are completely different- the three should never cross.  As a client, you hired a variety of agencies to support you in seemingly different areas of expertise. On any given day, your job may have resembled wrangling cattle in the wild, wild, west.

Fast forward to the past several years where the buzz word has been “integration”.  The ideal set-up was to find a “one-stop-shop” that operated as a true partner and supported the business. This agency model followed the very significant change in how we do public relations, marketing and advertising. There was a transition to finding a partner that had everything “in-house” and was an all-encompassing expert.  This is where we, the agency industry, lost.

We would never advise a brand that they can be great at everything- we always push our clients to define their true differentiator and their purpose.  Why would we, as agencies, not take our own advice?

Agencies are once again transforming how they do business.  Their operating models are changing – becoming more efficient to please the everyday client.  A Forrester report, “Predictions: 2020 Agencies” found that agencies are predicted to disassemble outdated models and replace them with centralized structures and new capabilities strengthened by scaled data, technology, more automation, machine learning, and AI.

For clients, this may seem appealing.  Data insists agencies can be more efficient: create campaigns that have higher results and provide “the powers that be” with a beautiful product with a big, red ROI bow tied neatly on top.  However, it’s important to know that we have seen it equally stifle creativity and prevent us from thinking “outside the box”.

At BAERING, we believe that efficiency and data are important.  But it’s even more important for us to be nimble and be a true advisor to our clients, helping them see around corners and see past their blind spots. We do this by listening, by discovering the gaps, and finding where we fit in.

No matter how agencies should “transform” to support the next best trend, we should be transparent about what we can deliver and seek opportunities to join forces in order to support our bold initiatives and solve our client’s in-depth needs.  In return, our clients will respect who we are and what we offer. When agencies deliver a valuable product, clients will trust that we have their best interest in mind and not our bottom line.