PWC’s Creative Leader: How To Build “Virtual” Advertising Agency, Manage Remote Teams
On the third episode of The Rough Cut’s fifth season, Storyhunter co-founder Alex Ragir is joined by Jack Teuber, the Managing Director and Creative Leader for PricewaterhouseCoopers. Jack launched PWC’s in-house agency in 2012 and established it as a “virtual agency”, leading a creative team of 100 interactive, environmental, video, design, digital and account specialists across the US. Alex and Jack talked about how brands should establish their tone during the pandemic, how to effectively manage creatives while working remotely and the future of in-house agencies.
On the go? Listen to the full interview on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, and anywhere else you listen to your shows.
Below are edited highlights of the conversation:
Read The Room To Figure Out Your Brand’s Tone
“It’s important to recognize that there’s a certain kind of advertising that you just don’t see a lot of because it doesn’t make sense right now. That’s just good judgement, but it’s also sensitivity. You don’t usually go to a party and announce ‘I’M HERE!’ You get to a party and read the room and you see what’s appropriate. That’s how to figure out your tone right now; read the room.”
Communication Is Critical During This Pandemic
“Communication is absolutely critical, especially if you can’t just pop out your door and talk to who you’re working with. Communication has to be far more intentional and a bit more rigorous because people who you’re communicating with typically are working on something other than listening to you. They’re doing their job. So for us it’s a matter of having communications be personal and meaningful. They’re not these interruptive blasts. We do a lot of trickle-down communications.”
Teammates Have to Trust One Another
“A huge element of the virtual environment is trust. I used to say that trust isn’t earned, it’s given until somebody defies that. PWC’s purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems and trust is fundamentally what we do as a business. Trust is built into our everyday jobs no matter what we do. So that means I don’t worry if somebody in San Antonio, Texas is doing their job or not. I trust that they are.”
Encourage Open Communication, Even About Problems
“Coming up with the right relationship and accountability is important. Making sure that someone who has a problem raises their hand. I have a saying, I can’t remember who told me this, ‘If you have a problem, and you keep it to yourself, it’s your problem. If you have a problem and you share it with me, it becomes our problem.’ I probably say that once or more every day, so that people know it’s okay to talk when they’re having some kind of difficulty.”
Organizations Are Setting Up In-House Agencies Quicker Than Ever Before
“We’ve heard a lot about the rise of the in-house agency. Typically it starts out as a way to save some costs on the production side. And for a lot of older agencies, that’s very true. Gradually, capabilities are gained. Space is given to do more interesting work and suddenly things build out. Over the past 18 months, there was a trend where in-house agencies build up from that smaller production side to bring on more skills. Now there’s been a leapfrogging where organizations are just setting up full blown agencies in-house as a way to bring creatives closer to the business itself.”
In-House Agencies Aren’t Going Anywhere
“You can probably draw lines from where they are and expect them to keep going. For example, the in-house agency isn’t going to go away even as we’re going through an interesting time here. But I don’t see the organizations that have made investments in bringing these skills in house and frankly, gotten used to having the in-house resources there to do the work. And traditional agencies will evolve as they always have.”
The Best Ads Are Stories
“So many companies are in the publishing business regardless of what they’re selling in the marketplace. You look at ads for consumer products and the best television spots are 30 second stories. They’re not a list of facts about a particular product. They’re typically a story that’s trying to scratch your attention and has to cut through. The best ads are the ones you don’t mind seeing again.”
We As Humans And Agencies Have To Listen
“The best thing you can do as an agency is the best thing we can do as people, and that’s listen. Understand what people are receptive to, what they’re responding to and what people say they need and they’re ready for. This is something that most people alive today have never experienced so I wouldn’t go anywhere near how things are going to change. It’s really important that we all listen and have really high situational awareness.”
People Notice When You Care About Them
“I think it’s important to recognize that we’re dealing with people. The mode of business today is efficiency. Be quick. Short messages. People do respond to the fact that your care about them and that you remember they have a particular situation that they’re dealing with. That’s you check in on it, not when they’re calling you, but out of the blue. We have to remember that our people are networked together and they talk to one another. Authenticity is really critical, so when you check in on people, ideally you’re doing it because you genuinely care about them. They recognize that and the trust works both ways.”
Click here for all previous episodes of The Rough Cut.
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By Alex Ragir (Co-Founder) and Jake Watkins (Head of Stories)