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Catching New Waves in Marketing Leadership


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Recently, I had the privilege of attending the IPREX Global Leadership Conference in Philadelphia, on behalf of French/​West/​Vaughan. After spending 2 days, 12 sessions and countless hours immersed in conversation with some of the top minds in marketing and public relations, I learned a thing or two about both my career and my industry as a whole. Here are a few of my favorite takeaways on marketing leadership from the conference.

There is a big difference between a manager and a leader.
Executive Coach Ken Jacobs asked us at the beginning of his session if we thought we were leaders. No surprise, we all said yes. However, as he began to list off the differences between leaders and managers, it became clear most (if not all) of us, were not. Leadership is a two-part action that involves being open and honest with employees in order to motivate them to action. Leadership is not a monologue. A leader shares visions, empowers employees and inspires future leaders. A manager delegates tasks, executes plans and guide projects.

There’s no such thing as a new idea, just new ways of doing things.
During one of my favorite sessions, we examined recent campaigns that the group found creative and inspiring, and discussed what we could steal” from them and use for current clients. One of the biggest debates stemmed from T‑Mobile’s Drop the Balls” Super Bowl advertisement, in which the wireless brand utilized Steve Harvey to call out competitor Verizon. The steal from this ad? Calling out competitors can be risky, but if you can leverage humor or facts, it can pay off in a big way. Overall, it’s about taking a fresh look at ideas and figuring out how to make them work for your clients.

Metrics are changing, it’s about finding new ways to showcase ROI.
Measurement has always been a challenge for PR professionals. The mediums in which we work have traditionally been hard to quantify. With more digital platforms and measurement tools, providing solid ROI and allow us to go beyond just impressions and PR value. When embarking on a campaign it’s important to set measurements metrics and goals with clients. Think though unconventional ways of measuring success. Some potential ways to evaluate our work are:

  • Inputs: Number of social media posts, events, number of ads, number of videos, number of media mailers, etc.
  • Outputs: Likes, shares, placements, impressions, email clicks, visits to a website, etc.
  • Outcomes: Sign-ups, retention, sales, etc.

When you hold onto something that’s not working, you aren’t making room for something that will.
We’ve all heard the mantra, the customer is always right.” Well, when it comes to agency-client relationships, it needs to be a two-way street. I was surprised and excited to hear so many of my PR brethren say that they no longer subscribe to this belief. The focus has turned from saying yes to all requests, to managing expectations, and from telling clients what they WANT to hear, to telling them what the NEED to hear. Many agencies are choosing to fire clients that are a drain on resources and/​or employees. It’s about making tough choices that ultimately put the agency in a better position to do great work.

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