Practice doesn’t always make perfect

no-silosWe just won a very nice piece of business yesterday. And, the new client told me one of the contributing factors was our very different business model.

Unlike 99 percent of PR firms and advertising agencies, our business is divided neither by geography nor by practice group. So, in the former instance, we don’t have multiple profit centers fighting for their share of the client’s budget. In the latter, it means you won’t a find a Tech Group or a Health Care Practice at Peppercomm.

And, while prospects absolutely adore the first differentiator they can be puzzled by our silo-free business model. But, then we explain the logic:

- Initially, Peppercomm DID feature three practice groups: one was a BtoB unit, another was consumer and the third was comprised of dotcom era tech heads. The three group heads saw themselves as Vladimir Putin wanna-bes.

Even though they didn’t have separate P&L’s, they acted as if they did. So, they wouldn’t share information or resources. Within a few years’ time, we actually had three tiny agencies within one. And, the internecine warfare actually got nasty at times.

The dotcom crash enabled us to blow up the practice silo approach and start over.

- Today, we match the client or prospect’s specific needs with an integrated communications team that possesses the deepest industry-specific expertise, the right set of traditional, social or digital skills AND exhibits the most passion for the new account. That assures a win-win on both sides.

A practice-free workplace also assures our employees aren’t pigeon-holed in one area for their entire careers. Trust me, once you’ve spent five or six years plying your trade as a health care specialist, you’ll never find a gig with an agency representing Fortune 500 BtoB or financial services organizations.

It also provides an employee with variety. So, in the morning, Jane may be working on MINI Cooper and TGI Friday’s and, in the afternoon, she’ll switch to Honeywell and Oppenheimer. It’s a beautiful thing when it’s managed correctly.

And, truthfully, the latter is really our greatest challenge. Happily, though, we have a talented group of middle and senior managers who keep a close eye on who works on what.

Like my alma mater, Northeastern University, which pioneered the Co-op system of education, our practice-free model isn’t for everyone. Nor is it for the faint of heart.

And, for those of you who think it prevents specialization in an era of specialization, think again. Our model also assures that should Sally WANT to specialize in financial services only, she can. Ditto for Dave’s desire to only work on consumer business.

The model works.

So, for those of you who are burning out after 10 years of representing the same old clients in the same old category and pitching the same old trade or beat reporters, shoot me a note. Ditto to those of you who may just starting out, and believe variety is the spice of life. We just might have a silo-free gig for you.

2 thoughts on “Practice doesn’t always make perfect

  1. Pingback: Practice doesn’t always make perfect | PRiscope

  2. “Unlike 99 percent of PR firms and advertising agencies, our business is divided neither by geography nor by practice group.”

    My favorite part about being at Peppercomm!