Recently I wrote a piece in the Huffington Post, The 2013 New York City Elections: How Not to Develop a Talent Pipeline, that provided perspective and tips for anyone in any organization around their own efforts to develop and attract talent.

In my role at WCG, I spend a tremendous amount of time thinking both about unlocking the full value of our current people, as well as attracting new talent, so that we can continue to constantly innovate, deliver impeccable work and create an end-to-end experience for our clients that makes us indispensable to them.

As I complete my own first few months at the firm, I’ve developed a personal view on what helps people succeed here:

Come here to help build something – At an employee town hall, I asked staff why they thought some of our colleagues decided to leave the firm. Someone answered, “When people join us, we give them a particular job to do and account to work on, but sometimes we don’t tell them that we also expect them to help build this place.” I think and ask about this every time I interview someone. We have a clear vision and strategy for our firm. But we are a young and fast growing organization still building different parts of our company, every day. Building new capabilities… new systems and structures…. new ways we work with clients… new ways we work with each other. Successfully building something new can be exhilarating and rewarding, But in the process, at times, it can be frustrating and intimidating.  We definitely need fearless builders.

Be an Expert and an Evangelist –W2O has attracted some of the best talent, not in “the” business, but in many businesses, including digital marketers, analytics experts, communications & PR professionals, video producers and software developers, just to name a few. And more than anywhere else I have ever seen, each of these different skills and perspectives each have an equally influential seat-at-the-table at our firm. We are not an ad shop that has a few PR people. We are not a digital agency that bought and bolted on an analytics shop. This whole cloth of diverse expertise creates an amazing end-to-end experience for our clients. But this eclectic mix of people means that colleagues working side-by-side may not always have deep knowledge of how their colleagues do their work, or even how they think. So someone who joins us cannot just “do their job,” they also need to passionately and consistently explain their job to their colleagues and teammates. We need evangelists who can engage, educate and inspire the people they work with about the unique lens that the see the world through.

Always be respectful… don’t always be polite – We regularly give our clients powerful ideas that they can’t get anywhere else. We do this by drawing from the eclectic toolbox of talent, perspective and specific capabilities described above. Complex solutions based on a wide range of perspectives don’t usually come out of polite conversation of always like-minded people. We may have a earned media specialist, an analytics professional and a digital marketer all working together on a particular problem or opportunity. However, we do not use a polite, democratic process to come up with a final idea that incorporates every suggestion in the room. The idea is simply to come up with the best idea. Getting to that gold doesn’t require us to be mean to each other. But we also cant risk just “being nice.”  We need people with thick skins and the power of their convocations, who can also display diplomacy and a willingness to be challenged by completely new ways of thinking and working.

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As part of our continuing growth strategy to build strength in our digital and analytics offerings, to meet the needs of our clients in EMEA, we’re pleased to announce that Refreshed Wellbeing, a digitally based creative communications agency for health & pharmaceutical brands has joined the WCG fold.

With a background in both consumer marketing and professional healthcare sector expertise, Refreshed Wellbeing has extensive expertise in delivering  integrated pan-European digital marketing campaigns working for clients such as –  Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol Myers Squibb, Grunenthal, Johnson & Johnson,  LEO Pharma, Mentolatum, Pfizer and Roche.  Additionally the acquisition brings digital creative, together with media planning and buying capabilities that further enhance our insight led strategic approach, combined with 360 engagement, as well as additional regional knowledge that will support the work we do in more than 50 countries.

We’re also pleased to announce that as part of the deal, Refreshed Wellbeing co-founder, Carl Engelmarc, a well-known digital strategist and integrated branding communications expert will be joining the WCG EMEA management team. He has over 20 years marketing experience in Rx, consumer health and FMCG.

This is another exciting milestone for WCG in Europe.  Earlier this year, Holmes Report named us as the Digital and Specialist Agency of the Year. And in March 2013 leading analytics group, Mettle, joined us to enhance our predictive analytics capabilities. This acquisition of Refreshed Wellbeing augments our strategic and creative capabilities, as well as providing additional strength to our engagement offerings through the PESO (Paid, Earned, Shared, Owned) model.

We look forward to creating “what’s next” with our new Refreshed Wellbeing colleagues.

– Annalise Coady, Global Practice Lead – EMEA
WCG, part of the W2O network of agencies, is an independently owned and operated full-service marketing services organization. What sets us apart is our uncompromised belief that analytics (re)empowers brands to make more insightful, better decisions, eliminating the “guesswork” of traditional marketing services.

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When you reach a key milestone, it’s worth a moment to explain its significance.

Today, W2O Group, formed in January, 2012, hired a new president of WCG Chris Deri, who joins us from Burson, where he led their team in China. We’re thrilled, both for what it means to our clients and to our team inside WCG (Chris’s words on what this means can be found here).

For our clients, the drivers are very clear.

We are being asked to build an increasingly global agency that can provide strategic direction and insights for many of the world’s leading brands. We’ll do that in our own way. We believe that ideas and insights are borderless. The result is we need experts who understand 20+ languages and cultures around the world on our team. It is less relevant where they sit.

The C-Suite is in great need of innovation, ranging from how reputation is measured to how trust is built to how a reputation is earned, over time, whether it is for a company or an individual. Crisis and issues management are due for an overhaul in our industry. Public Affairs is still using many old school techniques with decreasing effect. The C-Suite, as it relates to our business, is due for a long-needed overhaul and we’re in the process of making that happen via our analytics, digital and corporate teams working together in unique ways. Our R&D pipeline is filled to the brim with client-driven, innovative ideas.

If we are going to be the best in health, technology, consumer and public affairs, we must be excellent at the above two areas. WCG is about to turn both into towering strengths.

Within WCG, this is an important step for us to let someone else lead WCG. It’s that simple, yet it’s meaning is far more important. When entrepreneurs are willing to let go, even if it is not all the way, it allows a firm to expand in new ways and set an even stronger course.
We’ve looked for someone like Chris for awhile who will unlock the amazing talent we have in our firm. Someone who will attract new and different entrepreneurs to our firm. Someone who leads with a people first attitude every day.

Our role is to serve Chris and his team. We’ll help them innovate, mentor talent and ensure resources are there for WCG to lead the way. We look at it as 1+1 =3, by letting the next generation form at WCG.

We welcome Chris and look forward to a great future for the entire WCG team.

Jim & Bob


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As I join WCG and the W2O Group, many thoughts and objectives go through my head – meeting our talent and clients, learning about where we innovate, and looking for growth opportunities that align with our clients’ greatest needs and our people’s passions.

These are all important fundamentals that will receive much of my time and attention. But they are basically the same to-do’s for anyone in my shoes joining any new agency.

The reason I joined WCG is because it isn’t any agency. Building on WCG’s unique success thus far, and contemplating its equally unique future potential, I can’t wait to collaborate with Jim, Bob and Gary as well as all of my new colleagues and clients, to explore, test and action ideas that I believe can continue to propel WCG on its journey as a next practices agency of the future.

Smart Growth  & Avoiding Agency Sprawl

If an agency’s annual revenue grows by 16%, has that agency become 16% more valuable as a client partner? If a firm’s headcount increases by 12%, has it become a better place to work by a factor of 12%?

Counting bums-on-seats and the total amount of fees that clients pay them is an essential responsibility for the agency’s owners and managers. But too often these figures become central data points to demonstrate the intrinsic value of an agency to its clients and its people.

WCG needs to provide a geographic footprint and set of capabilities that match our clients’ shifting and growing needs. We also need to have a certain scale that allows for continued investment in innovation, as well as a platform that allows for the on-going development of our people.

All of the above requires WCG to continue to grow. But we must avoid building a company so far-flung that it takes us away from client counseling, product innovation and people development and merely traps WCG’s managers and owners in the business of “feeding the beast” that we built.

As with urban planning that seeks to avoid unintended sprawl, WCG’s growth should be smart, with the right shape in mind for our organization. We need to build tools, expertise and a geographic presence that are doggedly defined by the needs of our clients and the aspirations of our people. We also need to ensure that WCG’s organizational shape as a client counselor and program activator always fits like a glove with the other W2O companies which can provide our clients with insights and analytics that they simply cannot get anyplace else.

Going Being Global

Choosing whether or not to ‘be global’ is as false a choice as choosing whether or not to accept gravity. Organizations and individuals are all operating in a globalized reality. The only variables are our level of awareness and the choices we make.

Companies make a choice to ‘go global’ through specific financial, strategic and operational decisions. But once additional markets have been opened, new products launched and a wider set of consumers are being touched, companies – at their center – must be equally deliberate about being global. That doesn’t always occur.

In addition to executing specific ‘going global’ investments and activities in new markets, similar to GE’s concept of ‘reverse innovation’, global brands and companies must subject themselves to ‘reverse influence’ whereby, the center of their organization – including but not limited to the C-suite – is infused with and influenced by a mosaic of global expertise, insights and intelligence on an on-going basis.

This reverse influence should be sustained, it should disrupt assumptions and broaden the waterfront of perspectives that impact real decisions. A company’s agency partner should be a part of this reverse influence. WCG wants to be that type of partner to our clients with our people and our point of view.

Borderless Trust

If you you want to be trusted anywhere in the world, tell the truth. However, beyond that, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to building, managing or repairing trust across all markets or every stakeholder relationship.

How does a Brazilian multi-national energy company build trust with policy makers in DC?… How can an Indian healthcare company establish trust with doctors when entering a new market like the UK?… How should a US food & beverage company repair trust with moms in China’s Tier 2 & 3 cities after a recall?

Attaining borderless trust requires certain universal principles and behavior. But then it gets local – quickly. No one needs to read or write more words about the influence and impact and highly localized aspect of of social media communities and conversations. Similarly, most of us  drown in thick monitoring reports from multiple sources that go unread, dashboards that only cover half the markets you are in and less of the languages your consumers speak, and buzz analytics that merely measure… buzz.

All the while, strategic decisions are ill-informed and campaigns cannot be assessed in real-time for either course-corrections or amplifications. And there is certainly no central repository, let alone criteria for, true influencers across all borders.

Borderless trust requires diving into local conversations and communities and building real relationships. Local instincts and expertise are definitely required. But any approach to listening, analyzing and measuring requires a singular divining rod that is informed by (and can influence) an organization’s overall strategy.

WCG can draw on W2O Group’s proprietary solutions that equip our account teams to provide uniquely powerful counsel on how our clients can build, manage and protect borderless trust.

That’s not happening at any agency. And that’s why I am so excited to be here.

Note: Jim and Bob’s thoughts on hiring Chris can be found here.

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