With unprecedented access to technology, the way in which we connect has rapidly evolved and revolutionised the work we are able to deliver to clients.
Harnessing the spirit of Pan-Africanism – which is rooted in the idea that we can operate collectively to achieve a shared goal, despite our differences – we are now, more than ever, able to work across borders to create impact at a local level.
However, in order to do this successfully, there a few things that need to be done correctly.
Build the right culture to attract the right team
In an industry full of demanding KPIs, shrinking budgets and increased competition, we often forget that culture eats strategy for breakfast. Great culture is not built on short-term perks – it’s built by creating a culture of inclusivity and collaboration, where people aren’t afraid to take risks and push the limits for their clients.
Leaders need to empower team members to go beyond being merely transactional and produce exceptional work that clients will not find anywhere else. The best way to do this is to create a culture of collective success; a place where everyone does the work, where there is no hierarchy. Studies also repeatedly show that diverse organisations often emerge as market leaders and tend to perform better financially. Your team is your strongest asset. Invest in building the culture and you will attract the right fit.
Tap into tried and tested practice – but don’t forget to tailor it
The beauty of working across a network is the ability to leverage on each other’s strengths and tap into existing capabilities. For example, on a global level, Edelman’s strongest capability might be our extensive research on Trust as a guide for the communications industry. However, on the continent it may be focused on another area such as the application of the Trust research – i.e. the public affairs and strategic media relations experience of the team in the Kenya office, or even the South Africa team’s understanding of consumer marketing and executive counselling, all however still guided by Trust data.
These kinds of resources are valuable, and knowledge and insights should flow seamlessly across offices. But the application of the information must be tailored to the relevant market. Navigating cultural nuances to ensure our messaging resonates with the audiences we are communicating with is of the upmost importance.
There are also boundless opportunities to develop skill-sets and share different perspectives across markets in a way that is not always possible when a communications consultancy is bound to a particular region or country. Allow your team members to learn from each other, brainstorm on strategies together, stretch their talents and grow professionally. Encourage them to embrace mistakes. Then ask them to share what they learn so it becomes a lesson for all. And allow them the face-to-face opportunity to do this in-market.
Develop a shared goal: create impact
Just like building the right culture and applying best practices, instilling the right values is the driving force and creating a shared goal is informed by the team you hire and work with. While we all need to focus on profit margins and growing our client base in order to survive, it must go beyond that in order for the company to thrive.
Establishing your shared goal and ensuring it is something that your team members are on board with while bringing value to your clients is what will solidify the connection between offices.
A lot of the work we do as an industry revolves around striving to make an impact, whether it is through data insights, strategic communications initiatives, a media campaign, digital engagement or an event.
A Pan-African business model – balanced with a cross-market view and local market talent – lends itself to this kind of work. And if applied successfully, it has the potential to redefine the landscape and allow organisations to develop a sustainable and lasting presence across the continent.
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