On the final day of Spectra, the online conference that focuses on reputation management, Helena Maus, CEO, Archetype, was in conversation with Arun Sudhaman, CEO and editor-in-chief, PRovoke Media. The duo touched on all the things that have changed due to the pandemic during 2020, resulting in a change in how agencies operate.
One trend that Maus observed was that people want to work with mission-driven companies. She explained, “For us as agencies, we think about talent – our most important asset. We want to make sure that we are giving them opportunities to work on behalf of companies that they truly believe in. Mission-driven companies really are the future. This is critical for the people who are coming into the workforce today.”
Maus said that the scenario used to be about working with a company that had the most profitable quarter for their shareholders. Those days are long gone, she believes. “Now we’re really thinking more about what does the company believe in? What does it stand for in the world? My prediction is that the most important companies being created today are mission-driven organisations. They will in the next era. It’s a place we would have gotten to anyway, but COVID-19 has spread that process.”
She added, “Another trend is that companies are recognising talent as their most important and greatest asset. Attracting and retaining talent is the most valuable thing in the entire company. We are hoping to see that the trend keeps going. When you see leaks and negative news cycles that are off-the-record, that is a real warning sign that there is something happening from a cultural standpoint.” Maus said this is indicative of the lack of trust. It’s important for companies to ensure that there’s that level of trust with their employee base.”
The third trend she touched upon was the divide between marketing and communications.
“Are they really two different things? The answer, frustratingly, is that it depends. On the company, on the executive team and what they believe in and on the talent. It depends on what customer you’re trying to reach. There certainly is not a one-size-fits-all; it really has to be down to the individual company and what they need. Budget shifts follow this as well,” she explained.
Her last trend was about how companies are looking for quality over ease-of-use with respect to choosing agency partners. “There used to be a world where giant global remits and agencies would respond with a global one-size-fits-all approach. Modern companies don’t think that way. They want to work with the best possible partner in every market that matters to them,” she said.
Sudhaman then asked Maus whether these lessons will stay only short-term and if companies will soon turn back to economic pressures.
Stating that it has to be a combination of both, Maus explained that “Shareholders demand returns. Companies need to deliver those returns in order to invest in the business for a positive impact. We talk about ‘magnetic brands’: brands that draw the kind of talent it seeks, shareholders that believe in them, and the partnerships that they deserve. We will we’ll see more companies ensuring that they’re not upsetting people, for lack of a better term. I wish I had a more clever way of saying that, but I think we’ve seen some companies really misstep and customers have spoken out. We have seen ‘Delete Uber’ was a big trend because they were not demonstrating values as a leadership team that people believe in. And because of social media, because of the speed with which these kinds of stories are shared,” she closed.