This morning I read that Texas A&M is leaving the Big 12 for another major sports conference, likely the Southeastern Conference (SEC). I have no connection to the Big 12 but as a fan of college football, I know this is a big deal. It’s a very big deal. Not only could it result in a domino effect that changes the landscape of the sport, but it’s an incredibly risky move that ends decades of tradition and provides absolutely no guarantees that A&M will be any more competitive in the SEC than they were in the Big 12.
So it’s no surprise that as many fans support A&M’s move, there’s an equal number that wish they wouldn’t make the leap. I happen to know that in business and in life, despite what can be overwhelming pressure to stay the course and not make waves – change is a good thing. In fact, I believe that it’s often necessary.
We’re currently involved in an agency review for an organization that has worked with their incumbent firm for many years. They solicited PR agencies to take part in the review – and let the representatives from the interested agencies know at that time that it was likely that they would maintain their existing relationship and move forward. (They are obligated to go through the process, which is why this is somewhat tolerable.)
If your agency is consistently delivering smart and strategic programs, I get why you keep them on board. However, in this particular case, we conducted an informal audit of this organization’s communications presence and clearly see that it is stale. There is very little PR activity. In addition, non-traditional tactics and avenues, most notably social media channels, haven’t been effectively leveraged, and in no way has the organization brought a clear message to its audience. It’s a buyer’s market for PR agencies and these characteristics certainly should not define any outsourced PR program.
While we don’t relish the idea of any of our clients making an agency change, we certainly understand the motivation for organizations to explore other options. It’s an opportunity for fresh start or, at the minimum, a chance to build on what has worked in the past and put fresh and experienced resources into a communications initiative. And, while shared, the responsibility of ramp-up should fall on the shoulders of that newly selected partner, regardless of how deeply entrenched a former agency may have been. Matter has been placed in such a position numerous times, and we now prepare ourselves to meet a lofty set of expectations right from the onset of virtually any relationship. Those clients took a chance and embraced change. It’s up to us to ensure that there are never any regrets.