A few people have asked my opinion on the big Publicis Ominicom merger news from this past weekend. There has been plenty of reaction, and a lot of smart thinking about the deal has been published in outlets ranging from Richard Edelman’s blog to PRWEEK to the Economist. My reaction is that of a small business owner who vies with these giants.
I can’t help but see choppiness in the waters ahead, from client conflicts to employee churn to PR playing second fiddle for many brands under the merged company’s umbrella.
One of the tenets we try to teach at SHIFT is “Underpromise, Overdeliver.” There is nothing more frustrating to a client than expecting the moon, because they’ve been told to expect the moon … but getting a slice of green cheese, instead. Far better for the client to be sold on the moon-like benefits of a green cheese slice … but then being handed the actual g-dmn moon!
This principle applies to all parts of life. For example, our house in California has been empty for a good, long while. We had the genius idea to have the place remodeled while we were still living in Boston. “We’ll move back to our dream home!” The contractor agreed time-and-again, all along the way, that he’d be all finished up in time… Fast forward to today: we are still a couple of weeks out from completion. Now, despite the fact that we love all the work that’s been done, we’re still upset. Every subcontractor that walks in the door is a reminder that he shoulda been done with XYZ project weeks ago; why is he still here, why is any one of ‘em still here, still not done?
I won’t bore you with the details of the situation or how we’re handling it… it just occurred to me that “I would never run my business this way,” which led me to remember that we quite specifically talk about this “Underpromise, Overdeliver” concept in our training at the agency. That is not to say that there are never disappointments, or that sometimes we don’t get overeager about an idea that ultimately doesn’t zing like we’d hoped. It just means we try to plan for failure, to adjust for it, and to make up for it when possible. The goal is “surprise and delight” vs. “overpromise and underdeliver.”
The gulf between a “wow” and a “sigh” is not easily bridged.
Friend and colleague Jeremiah Owyang has been talking about his newest framework, the collaborative economy, where consumers provide services directly to other consumers, sidestepping normal supply chains and business processes. He asked SHIFT for our thoughts about how marketing and PR fit (if they do) in this new economy, and the SHIFT team was happy to provide some thoughts. Is there a role for marketing and PR in a world where consumers do business with each other? Read the blog post to find out (spoiler: yes, there is a role).
What do a kid’s sandbox, critical state theory, automobile purchases, and marketing automation have in common? They’re all part of tomorrow’s webinar at SHIFT Communications on Critical Influence in Social Media. Learn from SHIFT a new way of thinking about how earned media and public relations are impacting consumers and businesses, learn how to measure the influence you have over your audience, and learn ways to build and strengthen that influence.
What makes an agency successful begins not with fancy corporate jargon or a client roster of well known brands, but with the people at it. Choosing who those people are and who they collectively can be is a daunting challenge overall, but impossible without knowing what you stand for. That’s why core values are so important. At SHIFT, our core values are part of employee reviews. They’re part of monthly team meetings, when team leaders recognize accomplishments by their team members aligned with each of the values. They’re part of our hiring process, and candidates are evaluated based on how aligned they are with the values of the firm – and we’ve turned down many, many people who look good on paper but they weren’t going to be a good fit based on values.
Core values help you to implement the essence of strategy: knowing what to say no to. Without them, you’re a car without a GPS, and you’re just as likely to drive into a bad neighborhood as you are to get where you want to go.
If you want to learn more about what the values mean, read this series by SHIFT Senior Vice President Catherine Allen on each of the values and how we interpret them.
If you want “the secret sauce” to longevity as a business, it’s adhering to values like these, especially when the temptation to do something easier or more profitable arises.