As part of Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN), the fastest-growing agency network in the world, our agency is connected to more than 300 offices in 145 countries. DAN agencies are known for innovating the way brands are built through the network’s best-in-class expertise in media, digital and creative communications services. We’re also known for our unprecedented ability to collaborate.
Recently Mitchell hosted two senior executives in DAN. Rob Horler, CEO of DAN US, and Christian Vollerslev, Group Commercial Director of DAN US, met with our team at our offices in Fayetteville, Ark. Their visit included a discussion with the agency on the topic of collaboration, which was facilitated by Elise Mitchell – CEO, Mitchell and CEO, Dentsu Aegis Public Relations Network.
We’d like to share a few highlights.
Elise: We talk a lot about collaboration, but let’s be certain we’re all on the same page. How do you define collaboration?
Rob: When you get into the nuts and bolts of what collaboration is, it’s about partnering with people. It’s about understanding how different businesses within the group can come together to deliver better results for clients. In the end that’s what it’s really about.
It’s not a hard concept, but executing can be. Collaboration is not phoning up another business asking for free work so you can pitch an account.
Elise: The agency world is full of smart, capable people -- why is collaboration so important?
Christian: Clients feel as if they have too many suppliers doing too many things. They feel like it’s expensive and difficult to manage so many businesses, and they’re looking for ways to consolidate their efforts. Finding an agency or network of agencies that knows how to collaborate is something clients truly want, which is what makes it essential.
Elise: How do you know when collaboration is needed?
Rob: DAN is such a client-centric network we’ll always do what’s in their best interests. We know they don’t want collaboration just so we can engage more agencies. Efforts need to be focused on what clients actually need and focused on driving efficiencies. When an opportunity arises for agencies to fill gaps for each other on behalf of a client, that’s when you know collaboration is working. Everyone succeeds.
Elise: Ok, so how do we start? What advice would you give agencies on collaboration?
Rob: The first thing is to understand what’s available in the sandbox. Know the strengths of the agencies within your network. You can’t collaborate with everybody all the time. You have to look for opportunities for natural collaboration among your partners. Agencies also must have collaboration champions within their agency who can work across the network.
If you embrace the concept of collaboration, which has to be based on understanding what everyone does and demonstrating some respect for what people do, then you’re onto something. That’s when you can make thoughtful progress.
Elise: What role does agency leadership play?
Rob: Telling the world you believe in collaboration is one thing, but bringing it to life takes intentional effort and the right leadership.
If you don't have a plan, don’t have the right leadership in place, or the right culture of collaboration, it will not happen. Executing the concept can be quite complicated. Luckily, we have all of these things in place and are structured for collaboration. While some agency networks compete for business, DAN rewards agencies for coming together to meet our clients’ needs.
Elise: Can you give us an example of good collaboration?
Christian: When you have a dialogue, not a monologue, with other agencies within your group about how you can service a client, that’s a sign of good collaboration.
I also think it’s easier to find examples of good collaboration when agencies put a process in place and have leaders who believe in a collaborative approach. For example, it’s great when new business teams can connect with other agencies to map out opportunities for the whole, and then engage all of the right account teams. That establishes a framework for collaboration to happen naturally.
Elise: How do you ensure you have collaborative agency partners?
Rob: It’s important for everyone to look for white space within the network and find agencies to fill those needs. For instance, Mitchell meets our needs in public relations. You apply a different lens to content, social media, and other digital tactics because of your specific expertise within public relations. And while we do find overlap among some agencies, there is always a unique perspective brought to the table with each partner. When everyone understands this concept, it works. And in the end, the client always benefits.
At Mitchell, and within the Dentsu Aegis Network, collaboration is far more than a buzzword – it’s who we are. We are uniquely structured to collaborate as a network and meet the needs of clients across the globe.
Are you ready to put the power of collaboration to work for your business?
Pictured: Rob Horler, CEO of DAN US; Sarah Clark, President of Mitchell; Elise Mitchell, CEO, Mitchell and CEO, Dentsu Aegis Public Relations Network; Christian Vollerslev, Group Commercial Director of DAN US.