Wednesday, May 31, 2006

We are not alone in this business

Lest you think that the goings-on in the agency business in and around Idaho are unique, here's a small world story that confirms the fact that the business we do does not happen independently of the rest of the industry:

I was listening to one of the many podcasts that I subscribe to, in this case Episode 34 of Across the Sound from Joseph Jaffe. In this particular show, I caught a piece contributed by Tac Anderson, with Blue Line Results, located here in the Treasure Valley. Tac railed on for a few minutes about the "old agency model" and how even local companies have been incredibly slow to adapt to changes in the industry. He also made note of a recent event put on by the Idaho chapter of the PRSA, in which a whopping six people showed up. Yes, you read that right, SIX.

Oh where to begin...

Let's start with the PRSA event. Six people is just embarrassing. But the first question that comes to my mind is where was the advance information about this event. Personally, I never heard a word about it. And with an event sponsored by a chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, you'd think that they'd do a better job than most of getting the word out in the press / media. Apparently not. When I can read a story about the former Governor's Press Secretary taking a job with a PR Agency, reported by the Associated Press of all people (I'll leave the irony of that alone for now), but I hear nothing about an event that should, and most likely did, have relevance for the agency business in Idaho as a whole, something's just wrong with that picture.

Now, as far as the "old agency model" of doing business, for those of you who've followed my previous posts, you know that I'm a strong proponent of adapting to the changes that are happening all around us. If you're not changing right now, you're going to find yourself so far behind that you'll end up spending significantly more trying to recruit talented, and qualified employees away from other companies down the road. To Tac's point of trying to help out their competitors, I'm right there with him -- they've had their chance. While its true that changes in the agency business in Idaho tend to lag behind what's happening nationally, now is the perfect time for agencies around here to catch up with the rest of the world. With very few exceptions, every shop in this state is a "boutique agency," and as such should be able to adapt incredibly quickly to these changes. Why doesn't it happen? More often than not I'd be willing to guess that too many shops are comfortable with the status quo.

So, here I am sitting at my computer in Idaho, writing about a podcast that originates from Connecticut, among other locations, that included a comment from another listener here in Idaho. We are most definitely not alone in this business.

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4 comments:

Tac said...

Brian, you're absolutley right. The PRSA does a horrible job promoting their events outside of their PRSA members, but I know all their members new about it way in advance.

In general I find it ironic that PR/Ad/Marketing agencies do a poor job "Marketing" themselves.

And to my point about Agencies not getting it, how many Agency blogs are there? This one and Adrants.com (and he's not an agency) are the only ones I've been able to find; and I don't even know who you are.

Great blog though, keep it up.

Brian said...

There are a handful of agency blogs around, although most of them do not necessarily limit their content to industry-specific "stuff."

A few worth noting:
Hill Holliday in Boston made the leap earlier this year and added their blog to the very first page of their website.
American Copywriter - John January and others from Sullivan Higdon & Sink as well as Tug McTighe from Callahan Creek use this blog as a companion to the American Copywriter podcast (an outstanding show in its own right).
Weiden + Kennedy London - this one is more about "life at weiden + kennedy london" but its worth a visit from time to time.

While there are a number of others, I think this shows that on a larger scale, there are agencies that do get it, but it hasn't filtered down to the local (Idaho) level.

I appreciate the kind words, but I should not that I am not, nor do I work for, an agency here in Idaho. I'm just someone who is familiar with the industry, and a fair number of players in this business, who's willing to talk about the good and the bad at the local level.

Anonymous said...

Some good points, but I think you and Tac get to caught up in the punditry that the technology provides. Most of us choose to leave that to the Seth Godins and Tom Peters of the world. You then pass judgment on us for being "doers" instead of "pundits".

Fact is, a lot of agencies--especially here--are changing rapidly. No, we may not be adopting your pet fad technologies with the same abandon as you, but we are experimenting and trying new things on behalf our clients. Most "agencies" here aren't agencies at all in the traditional sense. Most of our work comes from non-tradition/below-the-line efforts.

Frankly, many of us market ourselves by doing kick-butt work. Not simply talking the talk. The conversation here on this blog (often rightly so) seems obsessed with how agencies are marketing themselves, updating their web sites, etc. Let me tell you, great agencies are built on great ideas, not self-promotion.

Just had to get that off my chest.

Tac said...

I am familiar with most of the national agency blogs, I was rerfering to local agencies that blog.

As to "anonymous'"comments; listen to my rant on ATS. New Media is not a fad. I don't mean to get defensive but isn't part of walking the walk actually doing it. I personaly don't want to experiment with what works on a client, I'll experiment on myself, then once I figure out what works I'll sell that to my clients.

I don't try to come off as a pundint, just someone learning.