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“You can hit me,” my instructor said. “I’m trained to defend myself against anything you try on me.”
I’ve always feared violence, but I learned quickly Muay Thai is far from just violent punches and kicks -- it’s an art. This Thai boxing culture and combat sport hooked me nearly three days after arriving in Chiang Mai, Thailand. If not that, the elephant sanctuary surely would have.
It’s important to find some form of exercise while on the road for an entire year. Each month I try something new, but I figured Muay Thai would be like the kickboxing classes I took at my gym. From my experience in the ring, I can tell you they are as similar as Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger playing twins.
After 30 days of practice, I learned the art of the 15-plus moves and combinations the sport demands. I was exhausted and pensive. Thinking about our agency and our colleagues, I realized agencies today are not that different from Muay Thai.
To knock out your opponent, it’s important to combine all techniques -- jabs, punches, hooks, switch kicks and the roundhouse. I watched a live fight, and the winner’s size had nothing to do with the outcome. It had everything to do with power, speed and accuracy in the combinations. Likewise, it’s the full-service agencies that seem to come out on top when pitching new business. Having content, media, digital and crisis communications under one roof puts an agency at an advantage, no matter its size.
Every year, our firm seems to add a new offering to its arsenal. Having come to Allison+Partners from a sales role, the fast-paced environment wasn’t surprising. However, the ability to keep up with the industry changes in PR was. My first year on the job was the introduction to “content is king,” and we launched All Told -- our company’s offering to combat the need for content and digital services that are meaningful and tell a story. The following year, we launched our Influence Report, as the obsession with connecting traditional media to reality dominated the industry.
As technology changes, consumers’ perception changes. Our industry is just trying to keep up. We see the world moving rapidly towards AR and VR, but what’s next? How can we possibly predict the services we’ll need to offer and hire accordingly in the coming years?
I think the line has begun to blur between creativity and measurement. Imagine going to school for accounting and then being asked to present at an art expo. Seems unrealistic? But as this article suggests, numbers can tell a story and data keeps our content current. It’s safe to say as PR professionals, we should start throwing our fear of numbers out the window.
Another line beginning to blur is paid versus owned. Editorial content has been the focus of PR since the start, but the paid-ad approach is a big opportunity. Agencies today have begun to add integrated approaches to PR and hiring from outside the general media pool of talent. A skillset in SEO can now land you a job at a PR firm, where before the advertising world was the place to be.
We are all aware by now public relations will be more closely aligned with marketing as the industry moves forward. What does that mean for us? Clients want agencies to fulfill a long list of services under one roof and when it comes to marketing for a brand, that list falls within the services of PR. Whether that be media strategy, corporate communications, content, influence or authenticity, it’s the PR team that’s going to help tell the story.
In Muay Thai, there are beginner’s combinations and advanced combinations, and the more you practice the more you learn. The same goes for agencies; the more research and industry analytics we discover, the more prepared and advanced we are when it comes to beating the competition. We may not know what’s next, but we’ll throw punches at the industry once we do.
Milena Stancati is marketing + business development manager for Allison+Partners who is currently spending one year working, traveling and living in 12 different cities throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.