Back home with Kaiser & Partners!

October 15, 2021

Ray McIlroy

I don’t want to do the same thing every day. The idea has always represented the death of any professional drive and creativity I may have in me. That’s not the case for everyone, but that’s why I’ve worked in agency my entire career and I suspect what attracts a lot of people to this industry. It’s also the reason I have always ignored good advice about the need to specialize. I always wanted to pop around, walk the halls and see what everyone else is doing.

In my first agency role (prior to K&P) as part of a consumer team with Janine Allen, we had opportunities to cross over and see how a consumer approach could apply to other mandates. This rang especially true in collaborating with the finance team on a major account where we worked with David Kaiser and other members of the original K&P team (prior to the founding of this agency). The interplay between silos, disciplines, buckets, whatever you want to call them, has always been of interest to me.

After a move to K&P, an education in corporate and crisis communications and years of great work together, I took on additional roles throughout the industry and the wider marketing mix learning a lot but never quite finding the right fit for me. Four years later with plenty of highs and lows behind me, I’ve taken note of some truths that have shaped my approach moving forward:

  • Our audiences don’t live in silos. Investors and analysts don’t just look at analyst reports and consumer exposure to brands isn’t limited to the deals and promotions targeted to them. Everything is accessible to everyone and teams on both sides of the corporate / consumer fence need to know, respect and account for what the other is doing.
  • There is a massive difference between saying you value your people and actually valuing your people. Valuing the revenue they generate isn’t the same as caring about them as individuals and being invested in their career growth.
  • It’s easy for agencies to get hung up on unnecessary layers, it simultaneously slows down and dilutes good work. If your POV isn’t needed on something, have the confidence to back off and trust your team.
  • Public Relations is a vital piece of the marketing mix, it extends reach for your story and amplifies an idea through third party credibility. To do this effectively though we need to be at the table from the start as a sounding board and creative extension while ideating.
  • Data, which seems like the obvious starting point, is somehow always underrated when time is limited. I ran away from numbers when looking for a job too but have since learned the difference true insights make in shaping strategy or sparking a creative idea.
  • No aspect of this industry is dead yet, despite what some agencies may tell you. Think media relations is dead? You’re probably not investing the time into relationships and smart angles. Think influencers are a fad destined to burn out? It’s probably because it scares you. Don’t want to learn why TikTok is relevant? Neither do I, but it’s our job, so find your in-agency experts or add one to the team. Your clients, regardless of their mandate, will benefit from it.

I’m thrilled to be back home with the Kaiser & Partners team among a mix of old friends and impressive new team members. I’m excited to bring what I’ve learned to help benefit our clients and teammates alike, and in turn, to learn from them all and see the perspectives we can combine as the agency looks toward the next decade.

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