Every so often, Chez AgencySpy gets a little bit of news from the PR side of the biz that perks up our ears. Don’t get us wrong, we receive all kinds of pitches about PR. But writing about the appointment of, say, a junior assistant communications social media representative at a PR shop in Savannah, Ga., isn’t exactly our shtick (though we wish that person well and look forward to working with them when they land at DiGennaro or Powell in New York someday).
This time, however, we were intrigued by what Jeff Sweat has cooking. If you’re keeping score at home, Sweat is not only an emeritus member of the Gutter Bar crew in Cannes, he’s a published young adult fiction author. He’s also the owner of what was once called Mister Sweat, what one could call a “classic” advertising PR firm.
However, after much research, soul-searching and the like, the Los Angeles-based marketing maven is now calling his concern Sweat + Co and launched a new consulting practice to help agencies navigate the Covid-19 crisis and tee themselves up for whatever the industry looks like when we all get back to what we all hope is a productive “normal.”
“Agencies were already being squeezed by internal creative groups, large consulting firms and marketers. Covid-19 is taking many of them to the breaking point,” said Sweat, who once met Jeff Goldblum at a concert in L.A., with photographic proof. “We want to help agencies leave this crisis better than when they came in.”
Sweat has some significant agency chops. He led comms for 72andSunny and Deutsch L.A. and is familiar with the inner workings of the business. Additionally, Sweat + Co (not to be confused with Work + Co) has long used an in-depth assessment tool to help squeeze as much potential out of an agency as possible.
“[We] found that behind their inquisitive nature (or perhaps because of it) is an in-depth agency audit process called the Agency Vitals Assessment. We found it illuminating, and today it informs far more than our PR strategy—it informs our entire business,” said Jae Goodman, CEO of Observatory.
Sweat + Co has also built an advisory panel—known as the Vital Squad—that includes agency, brand, talent and organizational professionals including Susan Franceschini of ThinkLA; WongDoody CFO Steve Orenstein; Michelle Wong, former Dailey president; Kristine Shine, previously CRO at Popsugar; and Teresa Herd, past head of Intel’s in-house agency. Each addresses a specific piece of an agency’s structure and growth potential.
“[Jeff and his team] have been our long-term strategic partners, instrumental in helping North realize its dream of being a best-in-class boutique branding agency with a compassionate soul,” said Mark Ray, CCO of North. “The reason is simple: Jeff and his team understand us down to our DNA. Through our partnership, North’s story has been smartly written, amplified with heart and received in ways that have far exceeded our original hopes.”