Deutsch LA: an agency’s perspective on collaboration

Q&A with John McGonigle, EVP, group account director, Deutsch LA

As part of an ongoing series, we’re reaching out to agencies to get their insights on collaboration, both as it pertains to their own internal teams and how they’re working with clients and external partners. I spoke with John McGonigle at Deutsch LA to get his thoughts on promoting collaboration.

What’s your role at the agency?

I manage several pieces of business, contribute to business development and look for ways to impact the way our agency functions as a business.

What are some of collaboration challenges between agencies and clients?

Challenges arise from two areas, primarily. The first is multiple agency partners where getting everyone in agreement is difficult, especially with large projects. PR, digital, traditional, media. Ugh. Secondly is when the client forgets it’s the agency’s job to be creative.

How does your agency/team overcome these challenges?

This business is built on relationships. The ones that last over time are the ones where the agency truly cares about a client’s business, and the client knows it. If the client knows I care, they trust me. If they don’t believe I’m out for their success, every recommendation I make is tainted.

What are some of your internal collaborative challenges?

I still find it’s about digital and so-called traditional. The fundamental issue in my mind is they can struggle to respect one another.

What are your collaboration success stories?

The biggest success I’ve had internally was running an account where I banned “digital” and “traditional” designations. We were just a team. The result was some of the best work I’ve ever been a part of — both digitally and traditionally. If I had my way, that’s how every account would run.

How can clients help the collaboration process?

Trust. You hired the agency for a reason. If you believe they have your best interests at heart and the work is on strategy, trust them creatively and be willing to get uncomfortable. Uncomfortable often equals great. Comfort means work that gets a B, and disappears from culture immediately.

How can agencies improve?

Eliminate silos. Institute a culture that values ideas in the context of business results. There can be no success if business does not benefit.

Post by Roger Park

Roger Park is a writer and marketing consultant based in Los Angeles. Previously he was the blog editor for the YP corporate blog and a staffer on the Yahoo! search marketing blog. He also served as the news editor for iMediaConnection. His articles have appeared in Huffington Post, Wired, LA Weekly, Los Angeles magazine and various publications.