Not the hammer! Diversify your Comms toolbox

I’ve a confession to make. I’m useless at DIY. It doesn’t matter how small the job is, somehow I manage to make a mess of it. Even something which should be straightforward like hanging up pictures. Lift any picture off my walls at home and you will usually find a number of “practice holes” in the wall where I’ve got my placement wrong.

Part of this pattern of failure is a lack of patience. I just want things done now! A lack of patience can be an asset when you are doing something you’re good at (like practicing PR), but when it’s a less familiar skill you need to take your time.

The other reason I screw up is that I simply don’t have the tools I need to do most jobs properly. I’ve got this embarrassing small collection of tools which means that I’m left trying to fix any DIY problem with either a hammer, a screw driver, or an adjustable spanner.

Having a range of tools at your disposal is something that also matters in communications. In this context I’m referring to the ability to help clients address communication challenges through a range of techniques and approaches beyond just traditional media relations. You don’t want to be like me and DIY, always trying to fix a problem with the hammer, when that isn’t the right approach.

To be a great communications partner, and to be able make a real difference, it’s crucial that an agency can identify the best possible communications approach for their client, through an objective and strategic creative process.

We deliberately set up Tyto to offer PR “Without Borders”. This means that, yes, we are passionate about public relations, but we are also incredibly comfortable working across the blurred lines between marketing and PR. In fact we’ve staffed our business with an eclectic mix of talents so we can offer clients the right communications solution to their business challenge. Not just the hammer because that’s all we have in our toolbox.

We are not a massive holding company so as well as having an eclectic mix of talents who work full time for us, we’ve also built a network of technical specialists we call Tyticians. Our Tyticians compliment out internal team by offering specialist technical skills that we don’t require every day yet have the power to take a campaign from good, to great, to award winning.

One of the by-products of having this bigger toolset is creativity. If you only have a hammer in your toolbox then whenever you think of a communication challenge the answer is always going to be the hammer. Whereas direct or indirect access to a much greater pool of skills and talents empowers an agency to be more creative and much more likely to come up with the right answer to their client’s challenge. Not just the answer that suits a limited tool set.

One of the biggest learnings of my career as an agency leader is that the future shape of your agency is defined at the new business stage. Not just in terms of the brands you represent, but in terms of the type of work you do. If you are an agency that always turns to the hammer then all of your work will be of the hammer variety. You in turn will build a team of hammers; they may be ball pein, sledge or claw but in the end they are all of the hammer kind, much like your reputation.

If on the other hand you are solving business challenges with a diversity of communications approaches, you will win diverse briefs, you will build a diverse team and you will develop a reputation for being thoughtful and tackling challenges in a diverse way.

Now I just need to do something about my DIY skills.