Why getting out and about will drive curiosity, connections and clever ideas

By Petra Clayton

If you call our office to speak to one of the team and we are out it might seem frustrating at the time, but please understand why being out is so important to marketing success. One of the greatest values in outsourcing your PR and marketing is that you are relying on our knowledge, expertise and network to bring impactful ideas, new strategies and relevant relationships to your business. One marketing professional in a client operation will have so many restrictions on their time and resource to get out into the industry. An agency will provide a breadth of skill and knowledge collected on behalf of clients and presented in relevant and meaningful debriefs. That’s why agency life is a tough choice. We have to be out there challenging our thinking but also prioritising the needs of our client on a daily basis.

Only a small part of this can be done sitting behind a desk so it’s no surprise that when you call our office or expect a quick response on email that we are out and about doing what makes us an exceptional agency.

Over the last 25 years I’ve seen a steady decline in marketing and PR professionals spending time out of the office. My first years were spent client side and then subsequent years of hard graft working through the agency ranks meant I had a good dose of experience of spending time out and about to develop my relationships and education. Not forgetting of course, the many conferences, trade shows and workshops that I had to attend to stay on top of the latest trends as well as building my own personal network for my own career development. Forget webinars – I was busy with evening classes with the Chartered Institute of Marketing and Institute of Direct Marketing (as it was then) plus regional events, sectoral catch ups and media briefings.

Today I find there is an increase in dependency on building relationships over email, learning from behind the desktop and taking inspiration from social media. There are too many agencies and client operations that believe their time is better spent constructing emails, hitting the latest webinar and googling campaign ideas as well as being a slave to email admin, desk presence and internal meetings. All great in terms of efficiency and breadth but it would be foolish to ignore how human to human can still harvest competitive opportunities for clients, career development and business growth. Think about the best conversations you have had that have sparked an amazing idea or challenged the way you have been thinking about a problem. Almost all of these conversations have been face to face. While it might seem costly and bizarrely maverick to some companies, you need to let your marketing team get out of the business and grab some fresh air.

We encourage and embrace opportunities for our team to get out of the office and explore both the hospitality and the marketing industry. A week never goes by without one of our account management team attending a workshop, conference, networking event or media briefing. Digital is still relevant and we regularly encourage webinars and online forums as well as asking the team to share their event attendance through social media to share the nuggets of knowledge.

15% of our account managers time is spent on developing their knowledge every week. We are aiming to increase this over the next year so this is just the start but has already demonstrated the value in investing in the team in this way. Promotions, increase responsibilities and stronger relationships mean they feel more in control and we feel even more equipped to provide a full marketing service to our clients.

We want our team to be curious enough to get out into the industry and learn and challenge their thinking more, we want them to be clever in the use of their time and developing new campaigns and strategies for our clients. Finally, we want them to be connected and that doesn’t always mean a request through Linkedin or an unsolicited email, we want them to build meaningful relationships within the industry and to listen to others!

Our next investment in time and learning is the Hotel Leadership Conference in 2020. It’s a great way for us to kick start our year and to listen to the challenges and opportunities facing the hotel industry next year. Yes it’s hard to square two days out of the diary, but when you can leave a conference feeling inspired and energised to forge ahead with new ideas and fresh thinking then surely it’s two days well spent? Stop trying to justify attendance at events. Sometimes there won’t be direct outcomes or return on the investment. Just know it’s all building towards a more connected, clever and curious way of growing your business.

Get out and about and leave the desk behind. It will still be there tomorrow.