Michael Kempner

Everyone seems to be talking about the future of PR and the direction PR agencies are headed.  But the fact about the business, what has always made it interesting and challenging, is the ever-changing landscape. Today we are keeping an eye on the future, because what we were yesterday, and what we are right now, is different than what we will be tomorrow.

The job of the CEO is to keep the agency in a constant state of evolution. They have to progress at a rate that situates the agency at the forefront of today’s disciplines and as a leader in the issues emerging for tomorrow. Clients want to see agencies progressing and leading, of course, but so do employees. Employees want to be at the shop that is blazing the trail.

Sophisticated clients are driving a trend toward a single P&L model to secure the best talent an agency offers. How the agency is going to compensate its staff is the agency’s problem, not the client’s.

At MWW, we have operated for years under one P&L. While others are just beginning to attempt to move in that direction, we are already there. A change like that requires a change in culture and in mindset. You can’t just wake up one day and have a different culture.  What this means for us is that operating from a single P&L isn’t just a feature set, it’s our business model.

The advantage is the ability to bring solutions to clients without fighting through silos. This gives us a strong head start as the rest of the industry tries to catch up and implement this “new” evolution. Our clients love it and so do our employees.

As an independent, we have an opportunity to directly deliver to the client what they want.  This is what they pay us for. But if we are good listeners, so that we also understand what they need, we can give them that and efficiently and effectively cement a long-term relationship.

To be successful at this, we strive to manage within their culture rather than to their culture.  Managing to a client’s culture can result in a predictive and stale same old, same old. Managing within their culture shows a deeper ability to listen and observe so that the agency team can anticipate better, and again, deliver solutions and results which push the client further.

Over time this allows us to move clients incrementally into a new direction, a new way of thinking. This pushes them further in their thinking and, we think, pushes them into a more future-focused anticipatory direction, rather than just giving them the expected and present-based solution to their issues. Evolving along with our clients lets us evolve our business and our work — it’s the key to the future of the industry.

To hear more, listen to Michael Kempner’s episode on the Agencies of the Future podcast.