OPINION1 August 2013

Jo Rigby’s six-month review


It’s been half a year since Jo Rigby said goodbye to the media agency world to become a research agency MD. Here, she reflects on what two different parts of the marketing services industry can learn from each other.

Delivering pitch proposals without the all-important ‘chemistry’ meeting is one aspect that I’m still struggling to adapt to. I always found these meetings to be a great chance for the media agency to bring the best biscuits out, while also providing a valuable opportunity for both client and agency to consider whether they can work effectively as a team on a daily basis. This is a vital part of the relationship-building process that should not be skipped over and I highly recommend clients consider adding this as a pitch stage, whatever the budget.

Another area I’ve struggled with is in navigating the often intricate world of hierarchical job titles that exist within research. Media agencies tend to have a much flatter structure, with less emphasis on a change of title indicating career progression. I’ve introduced this at Mesh – where I now work – with certain trepidation from the team, but I think it encourages a focus on personal development, rather than a title change, as the end-game. The jury’s out on whether we can go against the grain in such an extreme way. However, I believe it’ll see a stronger team as a result and it certainly makes for shorter email sign-offs.

“Delivering pitch proposals without the all-important ‘chemistry’ meeting is one aspect that I’m still struggling to adapt to. I highly recommend clients consider adding this as a pitch stage, whatever the budget”

The space I’ve been most impressed with is the breadth of skills a single market researcher offers. This is no way denigrates the vast range of talents within media agencies, but what marks the difference is that these skills are not siloed within different agency disciplines. The market researcher holds roles that are traditionally fragmented within communication agencies: data specialist, strategist, account handler, innovator, channel planner, digital and social media expert and story teller. Market researchers must be ready to respond to a diverse and urgent set of questions, and this is breeding a multi-skilled, multi-faceted professional able to adapt in an evolving industry.

What skills would I add to this stack? Some sharper commercial smarts are needed to protect the value of the data and the strategic insights that are delivered. Media agencies remained strong in this area, even after procurement people started to become a familiar face at those chemistry meetings.

Building and selling your personal brand should also be nurtured more. Somewhat of a buzz word in recent years, it is already well established within the communications world, and I think a little chutzpah would be quite refreshing within the relatively modest market research world.

With innovation and technological change happening at a much faster pace within market research than is perceived externally, the market researcher is within touching distance of social change, particularly in their understanding of shifts in the ways people communicate. There are untapped opportunities for the industry to be sharing this knowledge outside of the research forum, going beyond into creative and media events.

The challenges faced by both the market research and communication sectors today will be better met with cross-pollination of talent, to enable both to deliver better solutions for clients. With this in mind, perhaps it’s time for a different approach to recruitment, with more openness to the potential for skill and experience transfer – and of course, less about job title.

Jo Rigby is EMEA MD of Mesh

1 Comment

11 years ago

Jo, I agree. The research world is a little stuck, tired and infamously slow to embrace the practices of media, marketing and advertising. This is crazy as we are so closely linked and work within all of these disciplines. I think that "research" should stop seeing itself as another entity with higher goals. The only way that we can survive as researchers is by taking our skills in sampling, methodology and insight and taking this outside to the wider business community. I think that it would benefit us as all.

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