2019 was the year I went on a quest for a new agency home. Disillusioned with what my search surfaced, I’m looking to 2020 as the year that the standard agency model will be rethought.

I started by pitching myself to brands and agencies that seemed like they had the right stuff. In investigating each potential firm, however, I found that—despite glossy, high-tech websites featuring happy, shiny employees—the modus operandi of the agency world has become stagnant.

Of course, some superstar agencies exist, but the vast majority that I researched left me disillusioned. Their primary output consisted of unnecessary press releases, bad pitches and laundry lists of vanity metrics.

Tired and disappointed, I hopped a plane to D.C. to snuggle with my family and get into the Christmas spirit.

I fell asleep on that flight. Like Clara in the Nutcracker, my real-life worries transported me to a fretful digital comms dreamworld. I fought purveyors of superficial success, heard tales of magical places where “thinking drives strategy,” and joined the rebellion, eager to defend the vision of a better world and industry.

Fears of the Rat King aside, I awoke refreshed, with a full Christmas wishlist for the world of digital. I wished away the arbitrary practices of mass media pitching, creating constant noise for the sake of serving the content beast and burning out staff by demanding they report out unhelpful metrics.

If my Christmas dreams come true, 2020 would begin anew with:

Making “authentic” more than a buzzword. Marketers and digital communicators would move closer to quality over quantity via emotion-driven, impactful storytelling.

Relevant audience targeting. Agencies would guide clients toward defining and reaching relevant audiences truly in line with business outcomes.

Realistic deliverables. Strategic and thoughtful deliverables would outnumber campaign promises to “go viral” and spaghetti tactics (throwing stuff at a wall to see what sticks.)

More professional development. Brand and agency leaders would examine individual staffers’ career longevity. Professional development would become a priority over growing headcount in order to scale operations.

Aging in place. Senior marketing and comms practitioners would stay put longer in order to mentor growing teams and offer strategic continuity.

Alignment of creatives and data analysts. Creatives and data analysts would work side by side rather than on separate teams, carrying storytelling and analysis to the finish line together.

Better work/life balance. Digital leaders would ease off of digital staffers and offer more health benefits in order to create more sustainable working lives for their always-on, 24/7 teams.

What’s your Christmas wish for comms or marketing?

Previously posted on December 23, 2019, on What’s Shaking The Blog.

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