This blog post is part of a series leading up to our webinar: “Five fundamentals of a cyber security marketing and PR program in EMEA”. To attend, sign up today.
The EMEA region is a combination of many different countries, each with its own economy, laws, languages, culture, market and media landscape.
This means you will need individual agencies (or one agency with in-country offices) to form a single network for a marketing or public relations campaign to be successful.
Building a multi-agency network presents several specific challenges that you need to address when starting out.
Balance between central control and local autonomy
The first challenge you will face is whether to have centrally developed and controlled collateral and to use your agencies as distribution channels, or to have local autonomy where your agencies develop content based on their experience and knowledge of their markets.
Doing the former means you can be certain that everyone is saying exactly what you want them to, much to the satisfaction of your senior leadership team. Downside, obviously, is that this is a message that has been finely crafted with a knowledge of the US market, and not necessarily that of the target country.
Focusing on local autonomy gives you super levels of flexibility for the development of local campaigns that hit what people want to hear. The downside is that you have people developing your marketing content and outreach who may be too far removed from your business and what it is trying to achieve.
I have no easy answer here, other than that the best marketing campaigns bridge these two approaches to maximise the advantages. Balance is key.
Lead agency or inhouse coordination
You should think of your agency network like a bicycle wheel with a number of spokes leading out from a central hub to each agency, keeping the wheel turning as it should.
You need to decide whether you want to be the central hub that all the spokes go to or if you appoint a lead agency to act as that hub, and they then report to you, streamlining your engagement.
There are advantages to each approach. The more agencies you have in your network the more complicated it will be for you to coordinate. You can end up tying yourself up in knots managing the agencies, leaving you with little time to look after your internal stakeholders and being more strategic.
Also, if you take care to hire a roster of agencies that are experienced in working together in multi-agency campaigns, they will also tend to be better at coordinating themselves around the lead – usually but not always the UK agency.
The drawback to having a lead agency is that they will inevitably start eating up your monthly budget in managing the administration, and this will reduce the resource for proactive marketing and public relations outreach.
So, the decision on whether you act as the hub or not is in part a budget one and where your resource can get you the best ROI.
Reporting – keep it simple but relevant
I have worked with clients that obsess over getting very detailed monthly reports with quantifiable stats from everything down to my shoe size. In multi-agency set-ups it is more important than ever to only get the data that you really need each month.
Multi-agency reports on performance metrics can easily breed complexity and massively intensify the time spent on administration rather than getting the job done.
I am in no way arguing against quantifiable metrics – they are essential to understand whether marketing is relevant and is worth the investment. However, over the top and complex metrics that you think are just nice to have will cause massive headaches and reduce effectiveness. So, consider what you need carefully.
Do they make your life easier or harder?
Ultimately a big measure of how well coordinated your agency network is will be whether they make your life easier or harder. Success should feel like everything moves like a well-oiled machine. However, if it isn’t going well, don’t immediately put the heat on your agencies.
It may be that the way the system is structured is causing issues and no single agency has the power to alter how the whole system operates. Take a step back and consider the source of the issues and then make changes.
To explore coordinating a multi-agency network further, as well as other issues you need to think about when looking to promote yourself in EMEA sign up to our webinar on launching EMEA marketing and PR campaigns.