I did a lot of open water sea swimming over summer. The primary challenge is quite simply getting from A to B in the most efficient way. It’s very easy to zig and zag with currents and waves to knock you off course. My strategy is to focus on a point on the horizon and keep looking up to ensure you stay on track.
Changing tack slightly, this week marked Tyto’s first year anniversary. Just like open water swimming, it’s very easy to get knocked off course when you are developing a new business. The financial risks you take mean there’s always a temptation to gravitate towards any positive response your business gets. If you’re repeatedly drawn to these positive responses at the expense of a clear direction, you can end up zig-zagging all over the place.
Whereas with open water swimming we look up regularly for our bearings, for Tyto we got our bearings from a clear sense of what our purpose was. At its core with Tyto, we wanted to build a business that delivered perfect partnership for all our stakeholders. Clients, employees, journalists, influencers and suppliers. This was our moral compass. A perfect partner always does the right thing by its partners even when that isn’t the path of least resistance.
Next, we wanted to break down the silos between communicators from different countries and different communications disciplines. To do this, we developed a new operating model called PR Without Borders™. At Tyto, we felt that international PR was inefficient and the approach stale; our response was to build an international team that worked as one across borders with no silos. We also believed the line between PR and marketing was blurred and felt it was important to be able to operate across those blurry lines, and so we created a multi-disciplinary team.
Finally, to deliver upon Tyto’s PR Without Borders™ model, we knew we needed to have the best people and to truly be able to have the best people we needed to remove the geographical barriers for people to work with us. This led us to set up around a location agnostic model where employees could work from wherever they wanted. This opened up a world of talent to us. We were also committed to making all employees partners in our project, so we committed to giving everyone share options and an innovative quarterly bonus scheme.
We had a clear moral compass to deliver perfect partnership. We had a vision of a different PR operating model, PR Without Borders™. And we also had a blueprint that would allow us to attract the best people to our project.
12-months on at Tyto, this is what I have learned:
- The location agnostic model works and allows you to attract the highest calibre of employee. My most significant insight having operated this way for a year is that when everyone is remote, no one feels remote.
- Aligning financial success for client success with employee incentives on a quarterly versus annual cycle keeps everyone motivated and aligned to your purpose.
- Breaking down geographical boundaries and bringing together the perspectives of people from different backgrounds allows you to be much more creative. Seven different views from people who come from different ‘places’ lead to more innovative thinking.
- Not everyone is right for you and you are not right for everyone. This rule applies to both clients and employees. I estimate that only 1/10 of the prospective employees and clients that cross our path are right for us and us right for them. But the 1/10 which are right are so right, and together you forge the most incredible partnerships. Learning to say no to those not right is possibly the hardest and most difficult lesson to learn in year one.
- Our integrated approach to PR and marketing is valued by clients and leads to better and higher impact work. It also leads to client engagements that are typically twice as broad as a traditional PR agency engagement.
So, where has this all netted out 12-months on?
We’ve developed client relationships that are even stronger and deeper than I could have imagined. We have assembled pound for pound the most talented team of communicators I’ve ever had the privilege of working with. And we’ve hit or exceeded all our financial goals.
Having a clear sense of our purpose gave us the bearings we needed to achieve our goals and allowed us to stay true to our vision. Here’s to the next 12-months of success and momentum.