Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Getting along with Ad Agencies

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Getting along with Ad Agencies

Article excerpt

WORKING WITH ADVERTISING agencies requires skill and patience. But once newspapers focus on bettering their relationship with agencies, the benefits are well worth it, stressed speakers at the recent Newspaper Association of America (NAA) Marketing conference.

Robert Cudd, vice president of Phoenix-based ad agency New and Improved, said newspapers can better utilize an ad agency, get better advertising, and get more for their money by taking their responsibility for their relationship with the agency.

Too many clients, he said, take a passive approach with agencies and assume the agency knows how to run the account.

"If you don't get involved in the process, your're going to get bad advertising," explained Cudd.

Cudd offered 11 rules for managing a relationship with an ad agency:

* Before evaluating an agency, the newspaper must analyze itself. It must look at its own strengths and weaknesses, and then engage itself in an open dialogue with the agency

* A newspaper must compensate an agency in terms of what it needs (for example, project work or strategic communications) before it considers the agency?s needs.

* A newspaper must share with and train its agency "An agency without knowledge of your business is, in effect, blindfolded and in handcuffs," commented Cudd.

* Newspapers need to put their thinking on paper. Cudd suggested doing this before starting any creative process.

* Newspapers must evaluate their time lines.

* Newspapers should ask the agency to steal the best promotional and advertising ideas from different categories. A lot can be learned by doing this.

"Don't be ashamed and make a discipline out of it," advised Cudd.

* Newspapers must allow the agency to come up with some shocking, wild" ideas.

Wild ideas aren't always so wild, he said. They also give creative folks more room to be creative, makes the creatives more enthusiastic, and builds trust between agency and client.

* Newspapers must create a sense of urgency when working with agencies.

* Cudd advised newspapers to consider the dramatic and absurd in their advertising. Don't be afraid to look at things that are a little "off." "That's where good advertising comes from," said Cudd.

* Newspapers need to perform a post-mortem on their advertising and promotional projects if they truly want to get better and improve their relationships with agencies.

"Do it while it's fresh in your memory, and then put your learning into action;' explained Cudd.

* Lastly newspapers must be proud of their work. If you're not proud of your work, go back to step one and start all over again, suggested Cudd.

In turn, Steve Hubbard, marketing services director for the Portland Oregonian, gave the audience some tips regarding working with agencies from a newspaper marketer's point of view.

"The problem is the majority of work we do is for promotion of the news product. The advertising is pretty much brand building -- unmeasurable stuff," commented Hubbard.

There are two main essentials regarding effective promotional advertising, Hubbard suggested: getting good work out of an agency, and convincing management they've gotten good work out of an agency.

Yet, when working with an agency, it's important to remember there may be philosophical differences between what an agency believes is good advertising and what a newspaper believes is good advertising, he said.

"We have basic differences of opinion that result in ongoing aggravation that I'm not sure will ever be completely resolved;' said Hubbard. …

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