“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” – Muhammad Ali
Yesterday I went to a Facebook Marketing conference organised by Chinwag and Our Social Times. It was really good (and I don’t say that about conferences very often). There was plenty of food for thought and I may well share more on here in due course.
But one idea, from a talk by Maurice Wheeler from Doco, really stood out. Using some Black Swan reasoning (I’m a big fan, another post for another day), he put over the simple thesis that in a fast-paced digital and social world, where techniques and tactics can change from one day to the next, ‘big campaign’ thinking just doesn’t cut the mustard anymore.
The days when you would plan a big marketing or PR campaign for months and be pretty certain of the results, he suggests, are over.
Instead we need to be constantly innovating and trying new things to succeed. Quickly can the things that don’t work, do more of what does and have a more flexible approach to planning, strategy and execution.
I think there’s a lot to commend this way of working. It’s similar to the agile approach in IT development and is very aligned to the way embryonic startups work. It also slips nicely into a burgeoning trend of agile marketing that has been rearing its head more and more in the last few months.
Recently I’ve been thinking and experimenting with how this could work from a PR standpoint.
For this agile approach to work, you need to pay even more attention to processes, objectives and, of course, measurement. That’s going to be challenging for some agencies but I think it’s really only the tip of the iceberg. An agile approach should go a step further – improved transparency, openness and a real committment to everyone ‘pushing in the same direction’ – both agency AND client.
So what could an agile PR agency approach embody?
- Project teams that include client members
- Project management tools visible by agency and client
- Open brainstorming / idea generation receptors – e.g. we are using Facebook Groups with one client to do just this
- Sharing ‘rough’ work or drafts
- Focus on continuous brainstorming and trial and error
- Rigorous measurement processes, reviewed weekly
- Scrums involving people from across the agency and different client departments
- Sprints – agressive deadlines to deliver bitesize parts of a programme or project
- Daily stand-up meetings – every team meets daily (at least) to review yesterday and plan today
- Streamline processes – ditch long meetings, action reports
- Use technology to help pull together and outline ideas/activity/actions
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