An Agency Is Only as Good as Its People.

What happens when a client thinks they can't get the individual firepower with an IMC team as with separate agencies? It all depends on the talent levels and the teamwork skills of the individuals on the team that's fielded by the agency.

At a seminar for advertising agency CEOs I attended a few years ago, the moderator asked, "How many of you offer integrated marketing communications services?" Most in the audience raised their hand. I was sitting in the front row, so I jumped up, turned around and asked, "And how many of you offer public relations?" Only two raised their hands out of more than 30 agencies. I then asked, "How can you claim to offer integrated communications if you don't integrate the two most powerful marcom disciplines – advertising and public relations?" A fellow from one of the Madison Avenue agencies offered, "We can't get good PR people to come to work for an ad agency. They want to work in a PR agency." (Because they don't want to take a back seat to advertising.)

I knew then that those agencies could not achieve true integrated marketing, because they were carrying too much departmental baggage – and could possibly become extinct before they could ever evolve into a successful IMC company.

PR people in a client-based organization learn about and contribute to IMC. As do promotions, interactive, direct, media and other advertising specialists. They like being part of whatever solution is best for the client. They like seeing the bigger picture. And they like the variety that IMC brings to their work life.

When disciplines are organized in departments or divisions – or worse yet, when companies try to fill a void by way of alliances with other companies – you have segregated or dis-integrated marketing. In these instances, financial turf wars are natural to the system – and in conflict with the client's best interests – and, too often, people feel like they're the last to know what's going on.

For true integrated marketing, the organization doing the work – whether it be the client or its agency – will perform better when organized in a way that eliminates fiefdoms and conflicts of interest.

This true alignment of disciplines encourages people to work together for the benefit of their clients.