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July 25, 2007


Charles Frith

I believe that quantitative measurement is less and less likely to be a real metric than qualitative dimensions.

Measuring conversations is like setting up an index to define how much love is your marriage. Numbers, never quite fully capture the deeper picture a thinking person is going to really wish to see.

As you may gues, I'm off quantitative obsessions at the moment...I'm sure I'll come full circle once I've achieved my qualitative agenda ;)


Here's my first stab:

The agency of the future will first have to be the agency of transition.

The agency of transition will experience growing pains of a different kind – mental, not physical:

The agency of transition will re-read Ogilvy on Advertising and pause where it states “Advertising reflects the mores of society, but does not influence them.”

The agency will accept the mores have changed and the reflection distorted.

The agency will then set out to understand how the mores of society have fundamentally changed since the dawn of the Information and Postindustrial Ages.

The agency will then build a curriculum for its employees and clients that provides an explanation of what is happening, why it is happening, and what must be done as a result.

The agency of transition will mandate all employees have experience in a range of new disciplines or risk demotions and salary cuts. An example of this is in San Francisco: Goodby.

The agency of transition will rethink staffing:

The agency of transition will…
…reduce the titles Media Planner and Interactive Media Planner into one: Channel Planner. Employees working in these roles will have to wear each other’s hats.
…reduce the titles Account Service and Production into one: Account Producer. Same thing about the hats.
…replace the title Strategic Planner with Connections Planner.
…replace the titles Art Director and Copywriter with Creative Manager.

Combined, these employees will bunk up with one another, never working within their respective silos again. This bunking will be part of a more fundamental shift. The agency of transition will remove the walls separating departments and office personnel by account.

John Bell

Charles - without quantitative (and qualitative) we will never make our case in the C-suite. Marketers and CEO's need to know how they will measure impact on the business. It could be as simple (not easy) as moving the needle on the Net Promoter Score or as complex as weighted valuations on WOM activity.

Rad - agree with the constant change thing especially the constant training and forcing people to walk the walk of constant curiosity (learning new things). You also play with titles that we would normally see in an ad agency. I like Channel Planner and wonder if there should be one for earned media and one for paid media (or one with explicit expertise in both areas). I don't think that Creative 'Manager' name is going to fly with the ADs, though....

Charles Frith

Hi John. Rory Sutherland has just made an excellent comment regarding a quantitative driven approach to media. I think he's done a much better job than I ever could. Perhaps the C-Suite is in need of such frank advice.


Numbers have an important place in business but invariably never prove something that hasn't been tried.

Andrew Foote

The PR agency of the future will place more of an emphasis on consumer research during the campaign planning phase. More agencies will employ sociologists/cultural anthropologists who can advise clients on emerging market opportunities, human social phenomena, how people encode and classify experiences, the media ecosystem, etc.

I'd argue that the majority of marketers still perceive PR largely as a tactical function for message distribution. In order to fully gain the respect of the c-suite, agencies will need to build their communications counsel with upfront analysis into consumer behaviors, technology trends, lifestyle categories, and media consumption habits. This will help qualify PR as the marketing discipline that is best suited for WOM and consumer engagement initiatives.


Yea, "Manager" is the wrong word for the merger of copywriter, art director and designer/tech guru (I left that one out), but the idea of having creatives who can wear three hats simultaneously remains. This is a skillset some already possess (i've had the fortune of working with a few of them), but it will be more important than ever. For many, compartmentalizing abilities made sense 20 years ago. We must now decompartmentalize. Quicker. Faster. Better.

The idea of Channel Planner is something we're working with here. Breaking things out by paid media and earned media would be an intersting approach, especially as advertising and PR continue to blend. Most ad agencies are still not interested in earned media beyond referring to it as "added value" when they unveil their traditional/upfront media plans. Not sure if the opposite is true for PR and paid media.

Another way of looking at the role of Channel Planning is to begin with the the new marketing religion: Media Agnosticism. Build an understanding of your audience, figure how they want to be touched/reached/spoken with/spoken to, and then determine what should be created. Sounds like a no brainer, but often the planners are hard at work discovering these touch points while the media folks are doing their own thing with Simmons runs. Neither has taken the other into consideration. This too must change, and slowly is. Especially during new business where traditions can be tabled for new, fresh approaches to client needs.

Your mapping project seems to go this route. Would love to get a better look at your DI Map and how it overlays with more traditional ad/PR/marketing tactics...

John Bell

Andrew - Couldn't agree more on research and the type you mention. Time for PR to apply knowledge of culture, behavior and, even psychology to substantiate strategy. That happens to some extent but it must go deeper.

Understanding how people talk about a product or experience via some type of ethnographies would great. Again, what type of research focus should new PR embrace?

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