The recent issue of the Economist has me thinking about innovation. Yes, their “special report on innovation” is the driving reason for my thoughts, but they are coupled with another reason. Here at DeVries a new group of multi-disciplinary, media agnostic, folks have come together to form what we believe is a new way of looking at the craft of Public Relations. The industry is evolving – things are changing – mostly due to the rise of Social Media and the decline in trust of traditional advertising. The migration from interactive shops, ad agencies, internet pure plays, and marketing consulting firms to Public Relations is underway and this is precisely why I joined DeVries from Yahoo! just over a year ago.
The press release for our new group reads something like this:
The Strategy and Innovation Group is tasked with helping our clients capitalize on the new consumer connection channels and is comprised of Strategic Planning, Digital Services, Research and Analytics and New Business Development. This group will compliment our stellar Account Management teams and bring innovative programming to all of our clients.
While you digest that a question may pop into your head, you
might ask yourself, what the hell is innovation anyway? Well, the OECD, a global think tank, defines innovation as “new products, business processes and organic changes that create wealth or social welfare”; another definition from Richard Lyons, the chief “learning officer” from Goldman Sachs defines innovation as “fresh thinking that creates value”. I really like this particular definition because it fits nicely with our groups focus. Fresh thinking! Value creation! These are the keys to success for any brand.
Marketers must trust that their brands business goals are at the center of every agency program. It begins with knowing that we the agency understand the client’s brand and really understand their specific business challenges. – Understanding each other is REALLY where trust begins. When you work with someone for many years (as is the case with our largest client P&G), consistency, creativity, execution and growth are the essential building blocks to a great relationship – but, you continually have to prove yourself and show that you can bring “fresh thinking” to the table. I mentioned to our new Director of Strategic Planning, Lee Maicon, that if you and your wife went out to eat at the same restaurant all the time because you both really loved the lobster roll and then one day you plan ahead, sprinkle in some “Fresh thinking” and you fly her to the source in Maine and you both sit and eat lobster rolls sailing from Maine down to New York City together, that would definitely change the way that she perceives what you are capable of and not to mention the brownie points!
The point being, that a good lobster roll is worth the effort! – Actually the real point is that creativity and ideas are only part of the story. The most important part is executing on these ideas and to make sure that they can be measured and tracked back to the business objectives. Often with innovative techniques the measurement system is shifting and new, after all “fresh thinking” brings new ways to measure (how can you compare the next time you go to your favorite lobster restaurant?). In the end measurement is critical for business and in order to build trust, you need to show how effective you were. If you can do that you certainly will gain more trust from your clients. Don’t take my word for it – just ask P&G’s chairman, Mr. AG Lafley.
“P&G is a good example of an inward-looking firm that has embraced creativity and openness with some success. But Mr. Lafley, its chairman, makes it clear that this is no mystical process. He argues that even a process that is open to fresh thinking from the outside, as P&G’s is, can be run the same way as a factory: It is possible to measure the yield of each process, the quality and the end product”
- Economist, special report on innovation