Agency models don’t die, they just get reorganised
The announcement from Golin Harris that they have restructured their agency comms people into four specialist teams is music to our ears.
Many agency staff naturally work across functions and report to managers and clients at varying levels of seniority, but individual PR employees look to rise up the ranks according to responsibility and salary band as their career progresses.
The classic agency pyramid organogram may be redundant now, but each employee knows that they are looking to progress during their time at the firm as proof that they have achieved something when they are considering a move (how else can they justify going for a promotion?)
For us, the responsibility each individual staff member has within the firm is important. We train Paprika users according to three types of activity. Financial people – accounts staff, credit control etc are the principal users of Paprika because it is foremost a management accounting system. While they may be the smallest group of users within a firm they have the greatest responsibility. At the other end of the scale are staff who need to record their time and expenses, generally designers and freelance suppliers. These tend to be the largest group of users in a business.
In the middle are the account handlers- key individuals who manage the development of client relationships, and the interactions across the agency teams. They control all the functional aspects of the client activity, and under the traditional model they would work on a group of clients with minimum crossover into other teams.
What Golin Harris has done is not new: our client Chandler Chicco operates a similar structure with minimal hierarchies, but not every PR agency will be enthusiastic about such a radical overhaul. Nevertheless if a business is beginning to realise that teams of Strategists, Creators, Connectors and Catalysts is a more effective way of managing client communications then Paprika will enable the coordination of all the team activities in an efficient way;- one that maximises the improved performance that the agency is striving for.
Paprika allows an agency to track its client interventions according to jobs and tasks- regardless of who is formally designated to manage that activity. Groups of users at all levels have access to the client work going through the firm, whether this is daily client activity, projects planned for the future or strategic directives requiring input from users right across the business. It allows a PR business to structure its response to client needs exactly according to the performance measures it is looking for.
Multidisciplinary team working requires a high degree of organisation and accountability, so a reporting and management process that enables such a cultural shift in agency working is fundamental to success. If the new paradigm does not deliver improved profits then no amount of restructuring can compensate for the changed working environment that is invisaged.
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