RAPP: the state of the agency-brand relationship in 2014

Clients are demanding more from their agency partners than ever before, whether it is more sophisticated analytics on campaign success or improved communication platforms to collaborate. What are these changing expectations? What is the impact on the agency-brand relationship?

A quartet of experts from RAPP helped us answer those questions, gain insight into the state of the agency-brand relationship in 2014, and get a glimpse into how Central Desktop helps RAPP to continue their long track record of success.

What do today’s clients need?

Anne Marie Schiller, RAPP’s global chief client operations, started from this crucial question. Clients want your best work, of course. For some clients, even that may not be enough; they want the best work in the history of work. In other words, they want you to be…

  • Faster
  • Cheaper
  • Smarter
  • Innovative, taking advantage of new channels and platforms
  • Financially and creatively transparent

Easy, right?!

What do today’s agencies need to do?

Thanks to the list above, you can’t go into battle with a team full of Drapers, but even in this age of automation and analytics, at least one thing has remained true: you better have the creative talent to separate yourself from your competition. And not just creative talent. As RAPP has found, all you need to do is…

  • Hire and retain rock star talent across the board
  • Collaborate internally and externally (“[We’re asked] to have better and different ways to be nimble and agile, as we learn to collaborate on the fly,” said Schiller.)
  • Be a digital native
  • Make data-driven decisions
  • Automate where possible (“From concepting, coordination, project management, billing, automation is beginning to really rule the agency platform,” said Schiller.)

What do today’s employees want?

Once you’ve found that rock star talent, how do you coax them aboard? How do you keep them around?

  • New models of workplace flexibility
  • An opportunity to do interesting work for products they believe in
  • Connections; “There’s so much power now in the role that employees have in creating connections both in and out of the office – and how those connections fuel their personal brand,” Schiller said.
  • To skirt the traditional corporate ladder
  • Recognition

Fortunately, the needs of these three groups are not mutually exclusive. As Schiller explained, there are three areas in particular in which all of these needs and goals converge: results, creativity and recognition.

“Central Desktop helps us drive success in each of those dimensions,” she said.

How does Central Desktop help?

Bring order amid confusion

Systems administrator Mack Embry explained how RAPP uses Central Desktop to share knowledge (a database connects them with partners who can help on projects, and also lets them find and review trusted vendors), host secure web meetings and easily share files by mapping right to network drives.

“You can manage all of your content without ever even logging in,” he said. “It’s available any time, anywhere. You don’t even have to log in to the tool to access or save.”

Share stories and content

One of the big challenges of running a modern, global business is keeping your employees in every office feeling as plugged in and invested as the employees at HQ. A more collaborative mindset within your agency will improve both efficiency and morale, especially for remote workers and satellite or branch offices.

RAPP set up a shared single resource library for everyone. They also consolidated some more confidential information within a single workspace, but then wanted to share some of that information globally. No problem. Thanks to Central Desktop, users in Australia and Asia can easily access the RFPs and case studies they need – without gaining access to any privileged information.

Create a competitive advantage

Director of program management Suellen Anderson talked about creating a virtual “collaboratory” in which everything about a client is rolled up – from the client’s marketing calendar to scope of work, competitive and RSS feeds, team bios, all consolidated. Nothing ever gets stranded on an individual’s hard drive.

“It’s a really great way to not only educate and stay current, but to collaborate in one very transparent way and help our team move faster,” she said.

Test and generate ideas

RAPP uses Central Desktop to crowdsource, inviting their internal users to help solve problems and generate ideas. With offices around the globe, RAPP’s hive mind is quite an impressive hive.

“We’ll generate the ideas, pick the best ideas and build campaigns and solutions [around them],” Anderson said, noting that they will also occasionally offer fun prizes for community participation at that level.

“True service is boundaryless”

As client operations project manager Brandii Reid explained, it was crucial to have a universal landing page that was genuinely universal; basic company information like holidays and various protocols obviously vary between locations. Beyond that, RAPP set up Central Desktop so users can drill down into workspaces that are specific to them – relevant to their location, to their department, to their clients and projects.

The end result is that collaborators can easily find relevant materials and workspaces while also enjoying visibility into offices and colleagues around the larger network. In other words, employees in Europe can see photos of the California sunset from their colleagues, but will never get confused by an American PTO calendar.

Make connections

Users even use the system to connect over shared interests that don’t directly pertain to a work project; the New York office created a workspace for their company book club, for example. Another workspace was devoted solely to March Madness. This isn’t just frivolous, of course; as Reid noted, these kinds of ideas can help take Central Desktop adoption to the next level.

The full video from RAPP’s insightful presentation is below, and you can download the materials from the talk. You can also check out our full Collabosphere session page with many other fascinating sessions, featuring leading brands like CBS and Pinkberry. Anyone interested in user adoption should check out this great advice on user adoption from ScottMadden’s Karen Hilton and Mike Christopher.

Post by Adam McKibbin

Adam McKibbin is the content marketing manager for iMeet Central. His writing has been featured in Adweek, the Chicago Tribune and The Nation, and he’s produced content for some of the leading tech brands on the Fortune 500.