Virtual Teams Vs. Agencies: What's Best? Mission: Communicate! newsletter, June 2006

Virtual teams vs. agencies -- what's best?
Mission: Communicate! )
  • Virtual teams vs. agencies -- what's best?
  • Poor writing costs companies money and credibility
  • Don't get an MBA, study philosophy instead

    Dear Guest,

    Summer's here, and the heat is on! People in business must constantly innovate to succeed, and this issue of Mission: Communicate explores how traditional business hierarchies are being challenged by new ways of thinking. In today's hyper-competitive business environment, organizations need quality, value and results and are more inclined to look beyond fancy offices, prestigious degrees or strategic mumbo-jumbo to find it.



    Virtual teams vs. agencies -- what's best?
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    Anyone who has ever worked with a firm using a traditional agency business model knows the costs quickly add up, regardless of the quality of the work. Smart communication managers know when to use an agency -- and when to look elsewhere. "The advantages to the client of the traditional agency business model are diminishing," says ex-agency officer Ray Valek, now president of Valek & Co., which provides communication services through virtual teams. "Many agency clients have questioned what value they really received for their money."

    He says there's an exceptional talent pool of independent professionals and small companies that can provide better quality and value in most cases. Many are ex-agency employees who believe they can serve clients better and less expensively in this fashion. The trick is wading through the pool and finding the right people. That's where Valek & Co. can help. "We've put together amazing, hand-picked teams for clients," Ray explains. "We're tremendously networked due to our experience in the field. We know who's good -- and how they can provide value. We find the best fit for our clients. We're not constrained by having to involve people who don't make contributions to the client's goals, just because they're on the payroll or in an agency management position."

    New technologies enable virtual teams to collaborate on a par with agencies, without the high costs. "Before the days of e-mail, powerful search engines and collaborative software, it was more necessary to have captive employees," Ray says. "But that's no longer the case."

    Valek & Co. has beaten agencies in competitive RFP situations by putting forth stronger teams and a beter value proposition. "On at least a couple of RFPs, our new clients told us it wasn't even close, that our proposals were far superior, both in terms of talent and value." Valek said. "That gives me confidence that we're doing the right things."

    Poor writing costs companies money and credibility

    A recent article in Communication World, published by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), provides a snapshot of the quality of writing in corporate America. Two IABC members, Natalie Canavor and Claire Meirowitz, conducted an informal survey and found that poor writing is costing companies credibility and revenues.

    Poorly written proposals can cost companies sales revenues, for example, while well-written, customer-service communication can result in repeat business and referrals to other potential customers.

    Their article also points to the erosion of writing skills in corporate America, even among professionals who aspire to communication careers.

    The article goes on to provide strategies to improve writing throughout an organization.

    Don't get an MBA, study philosophy instead

    Matthew Stewart -- the founder of a management consulting firm -- puts forward this advice in "The Management Myth," published in the June 2006 issue of The Atlantic Monthly.

    While giving a brief history of management theory, Stewart takes his profession to task. He says much of today's management theory confuses sound business practice with faddish management ideas designed to serve the interests of consultants and top executives. In the aftermath of Enron, does this sound too familiar?

    He ends the article with a few points of advice, including "hire people with greater diversity of experience" and "remember the three Cs: communication, communication and communication."

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