The Forrest Gump effect: variety is the spice of life for today’s communicator

Continuing my series of guest writers for my blog, I thought it would be interesting to hear from the agency-side about what they are facing at the moment, what sort of requests they are getting and what comms professionals expect from their agencies.

So I’m pleased to introduce Nick Andrews who is Client Director at Sequel Group, where he is responsible for a range of award winning print and online magazines and other internal communication projects. A former newspaper journalist and self confessed ‘hack – but not hacker!’, he is now embracing the challenges thrown at him by the new digital age… Over to you Nick.

A long long time ago before the Apple Mac was even a twinkle in the eye of Steve Jobs and the web was something in the corner of a room, the role of a corporate communication agency was clear: ‘help us to bash out the house rag’.

Fast forward 30 years and life in agency world is much more diverse as clients seek to use our skills in a huge range of areas to maximum effect; it’s a cliché of course but no two days are ever the same right now. The surfeit of channels now available to today’s communicators, aligned to the latest technological developments, means a brief from a client often has a ‘anything goes’ outlook. “We’d like a printed magazine but also an online version and do you do mobile. Perhaps we can include a social media package too? And can you help us with the strategy and planning too?”

The challenge for us agency types is to weigh up the client’s expectations against the channels available and decide what is right for the audience. And then rethink when we see the budget… Seriously, I can’t recall a time when it’s been so exciting to be part of internal communication.

In the past six months Sequel has: – 

  • launched a microsite for 100,000 people in a leading High Street bank
  • produced our first iPad version of a magazine for a leading legal firm 
  • introduced video as standard to a range of digital page turning magazines 
  • reinvented a printed magazine for a transport client which deliberately avoids the digital age 
  • formulated our first social media policy by request from a number of customers 
  • had exciting discussions with a major retailer on a ‘mobile only’ magazine for its staff 
  • produced an internal marketing campaign for a major healthcare company 
  •  worked in-house to provide comms consultancy on a top secret restructuring project.

In the words of Forrest Gump, these days life for agency editors and designers is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get thrown at you. All we can be certain of is that life will never be boring. Particularly when you consider requests from clients in the past month have included ‘can you write a joke about change for my chief exec’ and ‘take a look at my tongue; its really nasty’.

Thanks Nick, don’t think I want to know any more details around your last example! I used to work at Sequel Group (when it was CG Business Communications) and from reading Nick’s examples can certainly see how the agency world has shifted in the six years since I left. I think it’s fascinating to realise how diverse in-house professionals expect agencies to be.  

Don’t forget that you can leave your comments below if you have a thought about what Nick has written or an experience you’d like to share.

Post author: Nick Andrews

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