By Monty Hagler
I’ve spent eight of the last 16 days working with more than 80 agency leaders in the Worldcom partnership at meetings in Italy and Georgia. Despite jet lag and road weariness from planes, trains and automobiles (not to mention pounds of pasta, copious presentations, early morning meetings kick started with expresso and late night socializing fueled by red wine and brown liquor), I am energized. Engaging with peers who are at the top of their game and willing to share their knowledge has a way of doing that.
As a member of the Worldcom global board of directors, my duties focus on partner satisfaction and peer review standards. Worldcom is perhaps the only organization of independent public relations and communications agencies that holds partners accountable to high standards for client service, business strategy and agency operations – and demonstrate compliance with those standards every 2.5 years.
Over the past 6 months, I’ve been working with several other partners including Melissa Lackey at Standing Partnership in St. Louis and Svetlana Malkarova at Media Consulting in Moscow to strengthen the peer review process and make it even more valuable. This required a change to the organization’s bylaws and full vote of the partnership. I am proud to report that Worldcom agencies around the globe unanimously approved the new peer review standards, which includes expanded measurement of client satisfaction, more emphasis on sharing best practices and reporting on how partners are evolving their communications strategies for clients.
Explaining the changes and answering questions was the primary reason I traveled to Stresa, Italy, for the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) regional meeting. But every time I interact with Worldcom partners, I learn so many new things. The “business speed dating” session provided valuable insights into partners in Milan and London, while presentations on agency best practices and client cases studies gave me a glimpse into how partners in Romania, Portugal and Norway tackle issues similar to ones facing RLF clients. For one example of creative ideas executed flawlessly, check out the work of new Worldcom partner Meropa Communications to help launch British Airways A380 service in South Africa.
Breaks between sessions provided opportunities to garner insights on topics such as wireless charging and business expansion on behalf of two RLF clients who are planning to grow throughout Europe. I was thankful that every meeting and presentation was conducted in English (the official language for Worldcom), although it was humbling and embarrassing to be perhaps the only person at the meeting who did not speak multiple languages.
In Atlanta, GA, an even larger number of agency partners from the United States, Canada and Latin America gathered for the Americas Regional meeting. My notebook is filled with tips, insights and “to do’s” gained from partners on topics such as crisis communications, the latest developments in digital communication strategies, and automated marketing tools to strengthen the bond between sales & marketing. With RLF’s office move into a renovated historic building quickly approaching, I also listened intently to lessons learned from partners who undertook similar office endeavors. For a good laugh, check out the Pollack PR Marketing Group “Office Space” video.
There is no denying that I am glad to be back in the office and my home. There is no glamour in waiting in the Newark airport customs line for 2 hours. But travel bumps are a small price to pay to spend time with so many interesting and engaged communications professionals committed to upholding the Worldcom pillars of global reach, market expertise, unparalleled results and select, supportive partners.
By Monty Hagler