It seems the number of agencies changing their model from a traditional core competency (design, public relations, branding) to a more integrated, media-agnostic model is on the rise. If you’re in one of those agencies, here are a few points to help you make a successful transition.
1. Trying to “do” digital instead of “living” digital.
It’s time for all of us to realize that digital communication is a way of life. For an agency to be integrated, we need to include digital in our work days. How can we advise our clients if we’re not living the life? It doesn’t have to happen all at once. We can start with something simple like using a Twitter stream as our primary way to get news. From there, we can consider tweeting information to our clients instead of sending an email. We can even set up our own website in a way that demonstrates best practices and allows for measurement. (But, hey. Let’s not get too crazy right away.)
2. Making digital one person’s responsibility.
There absolutely needs to be someone at the management level whose job it is to own digital initiatives. However – that doesn’t mean that person is the digital person for the agency and any question about websites, technology or social media get tossed to them. That’s a sure way to give that person the great gift of burnout and keep our clients wondering if the agency’s competence will continue if the “digital person” leaves. Digital doesn’t belong to the tech person, the creative, the account director or the strategist who happens to know how to spell w-e-b. It’s a shared responsibility or it doesn’t work. Which takes us to #3:
3. Trying to be all things to all people.
Knowing what we don’t do is as important as knowing what we do. A branding agency isn’t a technology firm. A public relations firm isn’t a search engine optimization shop. This isn’t to say we each shouldn’t have an understanding of topics outside our core competency. We absolutely should. Then we need to find partners (freelancers or organizations) to complement what we already have going for us. Building a collaborative relationship benefits us and our clients. Oh – and since digital projects are a combination of strategy, creative and technology, there are a lot of moving parts. Each affects the other. It’s important for internal and external teams to work together at each step of the process. Including the tech team up front will help ensure what we’re proposing really can be developed within the available schedule and budget.
Digital isn’t magic. It’s a channel. If we draw from the brand strategy and communications principles we’ve used all along and embrace the idea of learning how to bring them to life online we’ll go far toward living digital. Then, when we’re feeling particularly brave…we can tweet about it.