Put it to the panel: today’s agencies, tomorrow’s challenges

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From the Three F’s to the Four Freedoms, the future of agencies was discussed by panellists from some of Melbourne’s seasoned advertisers at Town Square.

Last Thursday, Firebrand Talent and Vitamin T hosted another Put it to the Panel event at Town Square. The topic centred on how today’s agencies can prepare for tomorrow’s challenges, and included guest speakers from DDB Group, CHE Proximity and Online Circle Digital.

Attended by over 70 industry peers, and moderated by Firebrand Talent Agent Scott Harrison, the event felt more like a conversation at after work drinks than a sit-down panel. Peppered with expletives and anecdotes, the evening’s conversation focused on ensuring business evolution ahead of a changing agency landscape.

As communication agencies adapt to new technologies, in-house skills and processes, the structure of an agency must evolve. According to Lucio Ribero from Online Circle Digital, it’s essential to strike a balance between specialist and general team members to stay on top of their field.

“I need expert,” Ribero said in his Brazilian accent that is, at times, confused for French. “I go into our social expert’s office five or six times a day because I need to know the technical aspects of whether what we’re doing for a client will work.”

“But,” he continued. “I also need generalists who understand the basics. You need the frickin’ balance.”

And when it comes to creating the best team to take on the future of agencies, the panellists agreed on one core need: to focus on culture. From Ribero’s three F’s – Fun, Fortune and Fame; to Kate Sterling from DDB’s Four Freedoms, there are a few facets to maintaining the right team.

“The three F’s are where everything starts: Fun, Fortune or Fame,” said Ribero. “I’ve got to give my creative guys something fun to work with, or they’ll get bored and leave. I’ve got to make my own fortune – even the Salvation Army needs to make money. And I want my clients to give me fame.”

Sterling went into more detail, with her take on the Four Freedoms. “We want to work with people who are aligned with us,” she said. “And these people need freedom from fear of making mistakes; the freedom to fail – and find the solution; the freedom from chaos, where we can work optimally; and the freedom to be.”

Ultimately, Sterling has identified that agency life relies on its people and the only way to continue moving forward as a successful agency is to nurture teams and grow a good positive culture.

Michael Titshall from CHE Proximity agrees, adding that protecting the people is imperative to protecting the business. “You need to put the people first,” he said. “Make sure they’re doing what they enjoy doing – because if you lose your staff, clients just start walking out the door.”

Follow the Town Square LinkedIn page for updates and information on future events, including the next Put it to the Panel. If you’re interested in hosting an event at Town Square, contact Jeffrey.