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WFA Crisis Clinic – Managing your agencies during and after the COVID-19 crisis

Lucinda Peniston-Baines from The Observatory International, London took part in an interactive session with the WFA and MediaSense covering the impact of COVID-19 on agency management. This session gave WFA members the opportunity to discuss what they think are the best ways of working with their agencies under these circumstances and going forward.

Here are some of their tips:

How to help your agencies stay in business

  • Maintain regular contact with agency leadership to ensure transparency on agency health and crisis management/mitigation;
  • Communicate more regularly (with immediate account teams) – so shifting priorities can be supported, ‘owned’ and delivered on;
  • Reduce, where appropriate, non-essential meetings & frequency of reporting requirements;
  • Accelerate financial processes to ease cashflow management – you’ll be remembered for this;
  • Recognise great work where you can so agency teams feel confident and assured they are delivering on expectations.

How to manage/brief/evaluate agencies during the crisis

  • Set realistic timelines accepting current working conditions (especially where multiple stakeholders are involved – internally & externally);
  • Use the committed agency resources you have to their maximum – drive collaboration amongst your agencies’ strategy and insight teams to solve whatever specific problems you face;
  • Briefs must be sharper and clearer and idea evaluation even more precise and skillful to work at speed. Co-creation of briefs has helped many clients achieve this;
  • Build in contingency should timelines shift, or activity be reduced;
  • On-going measurement and performance monitoring through light-touch reviews is a way to keep your agency motivated and focused on the now as well as the future.

How have you managed change in terms of measurement?

  • Hard and Robust KPIs set at the start of the year will probably not be appropriate in the current context and need to be recalibrated (particularly where they are linked to remuneration) – review them e.g. from “brand I would consider” to “brand I can rely on”;
  • Look to adopt softer, performance-related KPIs such as agility, responsiveness, collaboration and flexibility – and think how you, the client, would perform against these too;
  • Use the time to review your current measurement strategy and framework;
  • Don’t lose sight of potential incrementality learnings

This will be mutually beneficial – brands want to guarantee that the best agencies are still there for them when the crisis is over and to take advantage of the opportunity to become their agencies’ ‘favourite client’.

To view a recording of the full webinar please click here

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