Zappy New Year. Re-energise: Bottle’s New Year Resolution
“Energy and persistence, conquer all things.” - Benjamin Franklin
Jan 1st: Traditional to make new year’s resolutions. To reflect on the year before and make tweaks, adjustments, commitments - for a ‘better’ year.
But what does ‘better’ mean? Healthier? Fitter? More generous? More loving? Or just stacking up the gambling chips in a new rotation to give you better odds?
Jan 2nd: First day back at work after a luxurious eight day break. So what are Bottle’s new year resolutions? Does the tradition stretch into the business context?
Having read many ‘the year of 2018’ articles, and ‘2019 predictions’, like the 50 Big Ideas for 2019 article by LinkedIn’s Isabelle Roughol, or the 19 forecasts published on PR Week on NYE, I have found myself scratching my head, wondering: is there enough energy in our industry?
We have been talking about the ‘moment’ for PR for a few years now. You know, the moment when we eat the breakfast of the ad guys, and win every native content brief in town because we know how to do it authentically, But it still feels like the PR discipline is the leftover brussel sprout, when everything else has been used in the turkey curry. Why?
Perhaps the reality is that it’s going to take a lot longer to change behaviours and opinions, just like it did for the real digital transformation to kick in. Or maybe, just maybe, we are not working hard enough at it. We could be too busy chasing after the next ‘game-changing’ brief, or the contract renewal, or the sheer volume of ‘more of the same’ work… which means we’ve not got the energy to do the hardest job - changing perception of our industry. The irony being - that’s what we’re supposed to be good at… raising the profile, authority and distinctiveness of our industry.
So, rather than sluggishly accepting our ‘fate’ of an almost certain economic slowdown, growth in automation, increased regulation etc, we should don our new fitness trackers, get more energised and get fit for a future where native is winning the race and we have every reason to be leading the pack.
So, like most agency businesses, at Bottle we’ve set our strategy, budgets and have plans in place for 2019. The ink is dry. Our team have had a well-earned break. But what will get us out of the starting blocks with the lightning speed & energy we pride ourselves on?
Well, here are a few of Bottle’s zappy new year resolutions:
Stop sapping (the transformational) energy
Stop talking about ‘coverage’ as the main KPI - its time is up. We know it, and we need to work harder to eradicate this unhelpful measure from our agency and client vocabulary. We’re more than that.
Ban poorly planned brainstorms - if we put crap in, we’ll get crap out. Invest in the process, as defined by the Gospel of Mr. Cather.
Avoid - at all costs - thinking of journalists as our only target. Earned influence is so much broader. Always think about the consumer audience first, and then, who they will take advice from, who they trust, who they will believe.
Don’t let our clients (or us) talk ourselves into negative growth - not everyone will win, but those who do will do so through insight, creative thinking and optimism.
Zing together and energise strategies that help us move forward
Be razor sharp on client objectives, using the sales funnel to set goals. Too many briefs come with a ‘build our awareness and sales’ mission. Clear goal setting will help define the right blend of PR, Digital PR or Social PR strategies. Help clients understand the difference, and what can be achieved with their budget and prioritise accordingly.
Keep taking risks. Not all work, but you need to keep innovating and avoid the lazy Potters Bar type PR activations. Taking risks is necessary for agency growth too. We launched Bottle Bournemouth - it didn’t fail, but it didn’t deliver against the talent goals we set. If something ain’t working, learn quick, and move onto the next idea.
Do what feels good - continue to support good causes with pro bono work. Not only does it help causes that otherwise couldn’t get the exposure they need, it’s great for agency culture. Our pro bono projects have proven to be one of the most rewarding elements of working at Bottle for our team.
Believe in the talent you recruited and disregard the negative stereotyping about younger workforce. Gen Z and Millennials are younger (no sh*t) than most of us agency leaders. But everyone is different - so get to know THEM and the things they value. Our challenge for 2019 is to come up with a new signature moment that beats Wilderness Festival (tough call).
So, let’s stop sapping energy and zing together. It’s essential if we are going to prove to the marketing world that PR is deserving of a bigger slice of the pie.
Ready, steady, GO.