Emerging communications firms are facing a quarter-life crisis. These firms arenât start-ups and in most cases, have completed the 1000-day challenge any start-up goes through. Making it through the initial tough and testing time of any start-up firm, they have demonstrable work to show, an aspiration to change the way the industry functions and may have even gotten their first taste of success and recognition. These firms have made it through the initial education the start-up journey has to offer and as they grow further, they have an urge to find their own identity and be accepted in the established industry and its culture.
Letâs take a look at some of the excerpts from their personal diaries through the years:
Excerpt from March, 2012.
Last year, we visited one of the largest advertising festivals at a place known more for its parties than for business. Last week, we were at a communication and PR event. I donât really think we fit in there either! Things are changing for the better, but I wonder when we can attend a meet where we feel completely at home and a perfect fit. Maybe, we are in the wrong industry? I donât know; still havenât been able to solve this.
Emerging firms, having gone through the initial acceptance by a handful of clients, hope to continuously push the envelope and do things differently. They donât see a difference between advertising and communication and strive to make every campaign they take on, as disruptive as possible. The agility and flexibility of a small, yet growing team and a set of clients open to letting this young firm take risks sets them apart from the rest. But like every person, they try and find a community where they fit in. On some level, they fit with the established communications industry but at many levels, they are misfits. This not only brings confusion to how they can position themselves, but also their ability to hire talent, acquire risk-taking client partners and meet the criteria, at times made for the established industry players, at recognition platforms. They jump from one discipline to another from communications, content, advertising to digital and while they fit a little bit in each discipline, just like any teenager, they struggle to find a perfect fit.
Excerpt from December, 2015.
We donât want to be focused on quantitative output, but qualitative. The clients and the industry echoes the same thought, but at times, I guess these same clients donât want the talk. Today, after presenting a break-through idea which is surely to create great proactive consumer engagement, our client said, âgreat idea, but do you think we can get at least 20-25 more media impressions before the end of the month?â Hmm, breathe. Just be patientâŠ
The expectations of clients have changed and while they have given more importance to engagement levels and appreciate radical ideas, the client-side is also at an inflection point trying to accept qualitative delivery while balancing with the traditional need for quantitative output. Itâs not only a period of confusion for emerging agencies but also for clients, who want the new perspective of delivery as long as they still get the traditional perspective of delivery as well. As the industry evolves, the client side is also changing. We, as an industry, are also at a stage of transition. There will be chaos, confusion and struggle before things streamline and get clearer, better and full of hope.
Excerpt from September, 2017.
Last week, we attended the largest communication gathering in the country. And finally, we found a couple of other firms just like us! They talk like us, think like us and even want to achieve similar things. Even clients are becoming more open to working with companies like us and take risks on us. As we witness large agencies win the biggest agency of the year awards, we look to them starry-eyed. Hope we can achieve the same in the future, but in our way! Not by the old rules of communication, but by the unconventional, non-conforming and radical way of working. Now that would be cool!
The industry has started changing as more firms are coming with a new-age attitude towards communication as they mature, while larger established firms make efforts to be younger in their approach and stay relevant as they age. As more emerging firms make their way towards this quarter-life crisis, they find solace amongst themselves. These firms need to work together to learn, grow and combine to change the perception of communications in the industry.
Markets recommend consolidation at times of maturation of any industry, but maybe during a time of radical change, consolidation or at least like-minded collaboration, may be the solution much earlier. Very counterintuitive than how industries have performed earlier, but I guess even the markets know we are in the time of radical solutions as we welcome a new era of communications and its role in any brand with open arms.
Aniruddha Atul Bhagwat is the Co-Founder and Director of Ideosphere Consulting Private Limited (IdeoAct & IdeoInsight.) He is also the Director at Ourbit Marketing Communications Private Limited.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com.
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