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The power of collaboration in PR

Lately I have been touting a book by Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari called Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. It’s sharp, insightful and animates a theme that’s important in my work: collaboration.

His point: humans have been wildly successful as a species because of a unique capacity to collaborate, adaptively and at enormous scales. No other creature can match our ability to specialise and co-operate, adapting to external forces and dreaming up new ways to work and live together.

I think the capacity to specialise and collaborate at scale is an important differentiator for the agencies in our group, too. We need ever-more versatile ways to organise our increasingly specialised skills and experience to help clients navigate public expectations.

In the UK, we talk about four ‘arenas of collaboration,’ and part of my role is to help make the most of each.

  • Agency. The first and obvious platform(s) are the agencies themselves; each has a brand and culture nurtured over years, and they continue to be the primary way in which our people organise themselves and their services.
  • Client. In a growing number of cases, clients select two or more of agencies and ask them to work together across geographies and areas of specialisation. This allow us to scale up when and where needed, adjusting to client needs quickly and specifically.
  • Location. In the UK, many of our agencies are co-located in a campus-like setting designed to foster collaboration not just within PR but across the spectrum of research, analytical and creative disciplines. Similar campuses are in development elsewhere – Berlin, Beijing and other important centres.
  • Social media. We’re also experimenting with social platforms to connect consultants and teams one to one and team to team; this may be the most potent way yet to unlock the full potential of our people and experience.

History suggests we humans would have died out long ago without this innate ability to specialise and organise in the face of change, and few would argue that PR is not undergoing its most dramatic changes yet. In my view, these and other emerging modes of working together give us our clients the best chance not merely to survive, but to thrive.

Article written by David Gallagher, president, growth and development, international at Omnicom Public Relations Group

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