The Agency Model Is Dead. RIP!

By Laura Nobles | Editorial, , , , , ,

Many within the PR business consider “agency” a dirty word. It’s little wonder.

Having spent half my career at traditional PR agencies, I have witnessed first-hand the common denominators that create this image. Whether independent or a large firm, the typical culture is wacky at best, energy-sucking at worst. The hours are long, the pressure is high, and the “numbers” rule everything. With work/life balance often dismissed, human capital is taxed to the hilt and results inevitably suffer.


At the heart of this environment is a tired hierarchical staffing structure that looks something like this:

  • CEO
  • EVP
  • SVP
  • VP
  • Senior Account Director/Supervisor
  • Account Director/Supervisor
  • Senior Account Executive
  • Account Executive
  • Assistant Account Executive
  • Account Coordinator
  • Intern

On any given day, five people may touch your press release. Senior staff sets strategy and then pushes the work down to the junior team members. Inefficiency abounds, and you – the client – pay for junior team training at the risk of suboptimal work. That brilliant team you saw at the pitch meeting? Sorry. They are out pitching other new business now. Someone has to meet the numbers. Meanwhile, you are left with a day-to-day team that works on in misery.

The traditional agency model is the definition of 21st century insanity. That’s why we advocate for a new anti-agency, Navy SEALs team model where only senior level experts touch client business, the work environment is fun and invigorating, relationships come first, and performance and value are unrivaled.

What constitutes the Navy SEALs staffing model?

  •  Senior-level category experts setting strategy and doing the work
  • Long-time domain mastery
  • Moments-notice support, across and outside the U.S.
  • High bar for performance
  • Shared purpose and passion
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Agility
  • Team spirit
  • Focus on mutual success
  • Tangible results

In the highly competitive, global, 21st century world, innovation is king and markets can change on a dime. Smart CEOs know to surround themselves with domain experts who can quickly assess opportunities and obstacles, and act quickly and strategically to move their businesses forward. With so much at stake, whom would you want on your communications team?



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