How can APA members best promote their talents in today's ad industry landscape?
For those concerned with helping brands get their marketing messages across as effectively as possible, it’s surprising how rarely companies in the advertising industry think about how they market themselves. But APA members are keen to improve on this front, which is why the screening room at the Soho Hotel was packed out earlier this week for the trade association’s latest seminar – Marketing Ready for 2016.
The panel included Justin Tindall, ECD at Leo Burnett, Emma Bewley, Dept. Head of TV at the same agency, Jemima Monies, Head of New Business & PR at adam&eveDDB, Anna Allgrove, PR Consultant and Jason Stone, Editor of David Reviews. The discussion was a unique chance for those responsible for marketing production, post production, editing, music and sound companies to get a candid insight into what works best from the perspective of the agencies and publications whose attention they are competing for.
The traditional model of directors’ reps was the first point of discussion. Knocking on agencies doors with directors’ reels is the tried-and-tested strategy, but Justin admitted that it’s often fruitless because of the harassment agency staff often feel it becomes. Some even joke about being “date repped”, he revealed.
So should directors’ reps stop presenting work at agencies? No. Emma maintained that meetings are still much better than emails. Reps just need to make sure they approach them in the right way.
It seems blindingly obvious, but Emma warned production companies: don’t show bad work! Amazingly, she admitted that some reps even seem apologetic for the work they’re showing. This is more than just wasting agencies’ time. It puts them off.
Secondly, it is vital that reps know the detail about the work their directors have shot. The more knowledgeable about locations, equipment and crew on a given job, the better you will come across. Not knowing these fundamentals looks terrible.
However, the Leo Burnett pair agreed that talking over work is even worse. Let the film speak for itself and save your wealth of information for any questions the agency might have afterwards.
Creatives’ and agency producers’ time is under huge pressures today. Emma stressed that three directors’ reels of carefully selected, good, recent work beats a bombardment from every director on a roster. Armed with knowledge of what clients that agency has and the sort of scripts they are likely to get, it’s possible to make the most of that limited time.
A warning also came out of Emma and Justin’s confession: avoid director’s cuts when possible. If a piece of work didn’t come out how the director hoped, the agency will likely see the official cut anyway, so why hide it? It rings alarm bells that either that director is a prima donna, or that he / she is shooting two films – one for the director’s cut and one for the client.
Encouragingly, the agency contingent of the panel were keen to say TVCs aren’t the only valuable thing on a reel. Even if a director has only made one short film, that might be enough to convince an agency to put him / her to the client. The hard part, Justin admitted, was convincing a client to put their trust in someone who’s never made an ad.
All of these tips go towards building up a trusting relationship between production company and agency. Honesty is invaluable in this. Emma suggested that occasionally saying “sorry, we don’t really have someone for that” once in a while is a powerful gesture for earning trust. Jason took that one step further and suggested recommending a competitor’s director when you don’t have the right one on your roster. The agency are probably considering that director anyway, so what do you have to lose?
The panel agreed that networking in places like Cannes still has its role in “putting faces to names”, but people shouldn’t expect to get any work directly off the back of a rosé-drenched conversation on the Croisette.
Social media also got a mention, but the panel agreed that Tweets etc. don’t hold much sway unless it’s personal friends or people you trust recommending stuff. Their number of Twitter followers won’t affect Emma’s opinion of a production company, she confirmed. What a revelation!
It’s also worth noting that agencies are unlikely to be checking production companies’ social media or newsletters. Justin said people at agencies are much more likely to look to aggregators such as industry publications (David Reviews, The Beak Street Bugle, Shots etc.), who have a less partial, more trustworthy position and apply a critical filter.
To that end, Jason, Anna and Jemima discussed the ins and outs of how companies should communicate with the industry press. Press releases need to be tailored for publication, they agreed. Some want the facts to give them a chance to work out if there’s an interesting story here, some just want the work so they can make up their own minds, others want text they can easily copy and paste onto their site (not the Bugle though, thanks).
Jemima suggested that specialist information is welcome in an agency press release as long as it’s relevant, interesting and the production or post production company get this to the agency far enough in advance of a launch.
Anna stressed that whenever you contact the press it’s good to have a goal in mind. What do you want to get out of this? How would your company best be presented in the context of this publication? There’s more to the industry press than simply uploading videos to their websites.
The seminar was a particularly transparent and frank discussion of how APA members can best market themselves. Armed with these insights, maybe knocking on doors and email inboxes will be a more fruitful experience.