A 20-Something is Running Your Marketing; How to Keep Top Agency Talent in the Agency

by Megan Shroy

It’s 2016… which officially means I’ve been working in the agency world for a full decade.

As I look back, I’ve learned a great deal about the business and execution of PR the traditional way, which often means long hours accomplishing unreasonable demands. The agency loves wearing a cape.

Miss program demands and you’re out. Make program demands and you’re rewarded with more hard work, a big team and the next new business pitch. Darwin would smile at the whole mess, the strong associates surviving and thriving, lasting long enough to enjoy the next lavish holiday party and congratulations from the executive floor. It was great while I remained on the favorable side of Darwin’s balance working for an agency, but one thing stopped making sense…

In a perpetual “up or out” environment, why did we keep moving the talent that survived from our client work away to the bureaucracy of agency management? Didn’t they just prove they were the best for clients? Like a bird with the brightest feathers, shouldn’t they stay and thrive as a beautiful bird, not get rewarded with a change to a different species?

By now you know what caused this evolutionary faux pas: the evil corporate ladder. Many climb aboard, few ascend. There is no way to keep top talent in an agency without paying them handsomely, and with heavy big-business overheads, they inevitably have to move off client teams or else crush clients with fees. The supposed fix? Let the top talent sell clients on their skills, then load the program with fresh graduates with all their PR mistakes yet to be made in the future. It’s the classic agency model, you say, but it’s not so good for clients.

Approach Marketing does it differently. We are a virtual agency made up of independent PR and marketing specialists. Essentially, we’re experienced consultants coming together to staff accounts of all sizes. We function much like a traditional agency, with client-driven teams that pull together the skills and experience needed - we just cut out unnecessary overhead.

Here’s the thing too – Approach consultants have opted out of the agency world, whether they’ve burned out, decided to start a family or just realized they can make more money on their own. These are typically folks with 10+ years of agency experience. Most of our team sat at the Director level in the traditional agency, pulled off of projects to instead join the dubious world of overhead functions. At the traditional agency, they were more focused on new business development and 360-reviews than doing the actual client work, which is what they really enjoyed doing! These are PR PROS, which frankly, clients couldn’t afford full-time. But, as 1099 consultants, we come together to deliver clients top agency talent at a fraction of the cost.

Our simple fix – keep the best talent working on client work. In a big agency, they sell you the talents and then serve you the kids. At Approach, instead of your business being in the hands of a 20-something Account Executive, we sell you our talent and serve it to you as well. It’s as easy as removing those heavy big-business overheads, creating headspace to competitively compensate the top talent for their remarkable skill, and still pass savings to the client. It’s wonderful what can be accomplished when exuberant overhead fees vanish.

You get what you buy, don’t pay for people and things you’ll never see, we’re all better for it.