It’s easy to accept something for what it is at face value. A tree is something to climb on. A cactus makes a great desk plant. A flower is something to pick that also happens to smell nice. And yet, there is so much more beneath the surface. A flowering plant is more than its petals; there are roots, a stem, leaves.
The same can be said for advertising and public relations agencies. At face value, they design banner ads, make TV commercials and write press releases. Like most things, however, there is much more going on behind the scenes.
As someone who works in the industry, I find it easy to focus solely on analytics. Our clients find it easy to focus on the department that they primarily interact with, most likely the account services team. But, like a flowering plant is more than its parts, an agency is more than just one department. To understand this, it’s important to comprehend the different functions performed by each department within an agency. For the sake of a metaphor, we can define departments and their functions with botany!
At the start, there are the roots. Roots create a foundation for the plant and a means to get the water and nutrients it needs to thrive. This is the account services department. An advertising and public relations agency’s goal is to help make its clients successful, but as we all know, no two clients are the same. So how can we determine what each client needs? Cue the account services team. In his blog “Practicing What We Preach: Leveraging Research to Drive Business Forward,” M/C/C Account Supervisor Kevin Krekeler wrote that “understanding [what our clients find important] should help keep our existing relationships healthy and impact our approach to reaching and securing new clients.”
Leaves represent two departments within an agency: the media team and the analytics team. The veins of a leaf, specifically, are a metaphor for the media department. The veins point the leaf in the right direction, in hopes of finding the most sunlight. In a similar way, the media team finds the best use of advertising dollars in hopes of finding the strongest performing programs. In a blog titled “Location is Everything When Pinpointing Mobile Advertising’s Next Move,” media director Sherie Wigder states, “how you determine what is best for reaching your audience is based on the definition of the target, your objectives and of course the budget.” The blade of a leaf represents the veins in action. After the media team has purchased advertising programs for the client, the analytics team comes into play. They determine which programs are working and which are not; whether it is time for the leaf to fall so another can replace it, or if it should stick around for a while and bask in the sunshine.
And what about the flower? Considered the attention grabber of the plant, the flower, as a whole, is a metaphor for two departments within the agency: the creative team and the public relations team. The petals represent the creative team’s functions and how they bring attention to the client: copywriting, graphic design, interactive design and more. The pistil and stamen, the pollen carriers of the flower, represent the public relations team. The goal is that someone will pass by the “plant,” pick up some pollen, and deposit it elsewhere. This is a very similar goal to that of a public relations department, though it is much preferred that press releases are picked up by media outlets rather than insects. Flash back to a favorite moment of 2015, when the PR team drove “84 pieces of media coverage in relevant media outlets, including 21 feature stories” for Harris CapRock One.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably realized we are missing something very important. We have the roots, the leaves, and the flowers. We don’t, however, have anything that connects them together. For a flowering plant, that would be the stem, but for an advertising and public relations agency, it is collaboration and passion. An advertising and public relations agency is not just creative, public relations, media, account services or analytics. It’s an integration of all of them, all tied together with a passion to meet one common goal – to get results for our clients.
And, speaking of clients, we have one last metaphor: H2O. Our clients’ objectives flow through us like water and remain at the heart of everything we do. Just as it should be, because our clients sustain us.