Managing Large Scale Transitions: Effectively Communicate Change
POSTED : July 10, 2012

You are the Chief Marketing Officer at a large corporation. You’ve evaluated your agency partnership and decided to make a change. Now what?

Two weeks ago, we posted about the initial considerations and actions necessary when your organization has decided to make an agency-related change. Last week, we continued the post with insights on how the change may impact your organization and an example plan for managing the transition. This week, we’re finishing the post with insights around change management – how to effectively communicate with your organization throughout the change and what common pitfalls to avoid.

Communicate, communicate, communicate!

At the heart of every transition is change management. The most important tool for any change is communication, and transitioning between agencies is no different. It’s a significant change to ask teams across your company to discontinue working relationships they’ve developed over many years and welcome new agency partners. Shedding light on the details of the transition can minimize the uneasiness your people feel about the change, but different groups will care about different details. Because of this, your first task is to identify all unique stakeholder groups. What you communicate to executive leadership will likely differ from what you communicate to teams working directly on products or service lines and who will be partnering closely with your agency. With your stakeholder groups identified you’ll want to set a regular cadence for how often you’ll be communicating with them. Set expectations with the groups in your first communication with them. Now you need to determine what to communicate.  A sensible way to determine the what is to poll representative individuals from each of your stakeholder groups to identify their biggest transition-related concerns.

You’ll want to deliver a broad communication to all stakeholders at regular intervals – weekly, semi-weekly, monthly – that provides an overall status of the transition. This communication should; highlight what is going well, acknowledge aspects that may not be going smoothly, offer your strategy to address these challenges. In addition to these regular updates, targeted communications that focus on addressing the concerns specific to the stakeholder groups are essential. These can be delivered via detailed emails, conference calls or in-person meetings. Clear, thorough communication is more important than the delivery method.

Real-life example

Your marketing team and the business/product groups will want to understand the scope of the new agency’s services. They’ll want to know if they can expect the new agency to complete the same work, in the same way, as their previous agency partners. Developing a presentation or document that outlines key changes in scope between the old and new agencies and new guardrails they’ll need to consider as they engage in campaign work. This communication is not necessary for all stakeholder groups, but essential for those who will be working directly with agencies on campaigns and will be impacted by any changes in scope.

Building a strong foundation

How the agency transition is managed can set the tone for the entire partnership. A bumpy start for the agency can taint their reputation inside your company, forcing them into a defeated position that is hard to overcome at the beginning of a new partnership. It is your job to set the agency up for success and empower them to deliver great work for your company. With a smooth transition and a strong foundation, you will be setting up your company to enjoy the benefits of a great agency relationship and more valuable marketing efforts as a result!


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