Many PR agencies take a churn-and-burn approach to new business development in their attempts to build a broad client roster. That’s hardly the model at Taylor, whose distinctive philosophy limits it to working with just 15 “client partners,” including long-term relationships with blue-chip brands such as Diageo (since 1987), MasterCard (since 1988) and Gillette (since 1992). What keeps a client happy for more than 20 years? “They all experience the unique proposition of deep immersion in their brand and their consumer, a dedicated brand planner on their business and the knowledge that the client relationship is managed by an agency principal who is also an owner of the agency,” says Christian Alfonsi, EVP of strategic planning.
If this approach seems a bit more engaged than you’d expect from a PR agency, that’s by design—the firm’s approach is more akin to that of a major consulting firm like Bain or McKinsey than a typical PR engagement. “The methodology is as important as the message,” says Alfonsi. For example, each program evolves through five distinct stages that reflect Taylor’s “Strategic Principles”—discovery, landscape insight, consumer insight, breakthrough creative, and flawless execution—to ensure true business-building results for client partners. The agency’s interdisciplinary Brand Counsel Group drives the creative and program development process through each of these stages.
This deep immersion allows Taylor, named Consumer Agency of the Decade by the Holmes Report and the subject of a recent Harvard case study, to occupy a territory traditionally owned by ad agencies and marketing services companies. Consider a few recent projects. For Guinness, several years ago Taylor conceived “Proposition 3-17,” a campaign to turn St. Patrick’s Day into a national holiday, garnering equity for Guinness as the authentic Irish brand for the occasion. Today, Taylor is partnering with NASCAR on a landmark strategic consulting initiative focused on enhancing the star power of NASCAR drivers and deepening fan engagement now and for future generations.
The common denominator for all Taylor campaigns is consumer engagement. This level of focus on just one constituent puts Taylor at the forefront of digital strategy and social media. “Social media is about two-way engagement, being transparent, authentic and timely, whether it’s to support the distribution of branded online video, manage an online community or create and manage a location-based loyalty program” says Jackson Jeyanayagam,vice president, digital strategy. A key differentiator for Taylor Digital is that brand planning is at the core of all digital strategies and social media solutions. Its digital strategists are continually provided with deep, actionable insights into their client partner’s category and consumer audience.
“Client partners are channel agnostic,” Alfonsi says. “We believe at the end of the day that great brands want great thinking on how to connect with their consumers.” Taylor’s model calls for its brand planners to play a hands-on role throughout this process, involving them in every stage of strategic and creative development. An in-house Consumer Insights team conducts extensive primary research (both qualitative and quantitative), as well as ongoing social media monitoring and listening studies.
So how does Taylor see its role in the evolving media landscape? “We believe that the role of the PR discipline has been fundamentally transformed,” says Alfonsi. “Increasingly, senior brand marketers will choose to partner with PR firms that can generate brand and business-building results on a consistent basis, and across all channels, especially digital. But not all PR firms are equipped for this radically transformed environment. In fact, we are quite proud that the Holmes Report and Harvard University researchers and professors, who carefully analyzed Taylor’s business model and approach, recognize that our diverse mix of professionals, capabilities and strategic processes will help client partner brands compete and win in this new era.”