Value of an Agency with Cross Industry Experience
Having deep knowledge of a subject is something that most of us take for granted as a good thing. You’re an expert; you know your field; you live, eat and breathe your business.
Of course when it comes to sales, logistics, product development and operations this is undoubtedly true—having expertise is essential—but at what point does it start to hurt you?
Many organizations run into this problem when they want to communicate outside their walls—to their customers, partners, and stakeholders—in some cases this expertise can become a burden.
Customers often don’t speak your industry language; your product managers may not really know customers’ different wants, needs and perspectives. It’s a problem that comes up often in communications—needing an outside perspective. When you spend all day thinking, working, and improving your product, it’s hard to think critically about it. Sometimes bringing in an outsider can provide the perceptive that your internal team lacks.
That’s where a communications agency can provide real value—looking at your business through the eyes of an outsider. While any agency should have sector-specific experience that aligns with your industry, having a broad-based portfolio with a range of interests and clients can provide a perspective your company desperately needs.
My background is in journalism, and while having a beat was always fun, I often found bouncing around from sports to politics to community news provided me with a great perspective. Having a diversity of interests provides a breadth of knowledge that is often lacking in internal communications departments.
Cross-industry knowledge can help identify opportunities, trends and angles that might not be apparent within the confines of your business. Additionally, while you may have great relationships with journalists and influencers in your vertical, a communications professional with a diverse range of contacts may be able to find a fit outside your comfort zone. This can help when putting together wide-reaching trends stories that have a greater chance of breaking into mainstream audiences.
One of the drivers of this trend is the rapid pace of technology. As software, data and algorithms increasingly shrink the world, finding overlapping interests in stories that may previously have been see as niche is far more likely.
An agriculture story can quickly become a technology story simply by looking at it from a different angle. Similarly, a highly technical announcement can become a human interest story if presented to the right journalist with a different angle.
Clearly, having a general understanding of your industry is important when hiring any communications agency or professional, but the value of industry-specific “boutique” experience can sometimes lead you to pursuing the same stories and influencers as everyone else.
Sometimes it pays to think different.