How marketing agencies can tackle the churn problem and keep clients happy

09/26/2019 - Lori Bertelli

In a recent Muckrack webinar, Aarti Shah, chief product officer & executive editor at The Holmes Report, shared a current trend in the Bay Area: CMOs moving PR in house and saying goodbye to their agency. Shah stated that many CMOs have expressed frustration with the talent churn at Bay Area agencies as driving this decision. To CMOs, the agency problem of keeping talent is unsettling and jeopardizes their business.

Why is there a problem with churn?
Good talent is scarce and agency jumping happens – it’s a natural part of PR agency life in any city. A stable pool of talent is important and turnover is costly.

Part of building a career in PR is putting in the time and learning the fundamentals. During the middle years of your career, this means you are typically the day-to-day contact for clients and keeping things running on the account. It’s a big responsibility and does come with a fair amount of stress.

Many PR professionals succumb to the pressures and adopt a “that grass is so green over at ACME Agency.” Once they make the move, however, they quickly learn that the paint is different but the frame of the house is the same. Some agencies are also good at the snack room razzle dazzle or showcasing their nap pods. These tactics also work to draw talent for a while – then the talent learns that it’s still the same service work.

What is the solution for churn?
Churn happens and agencies won’t be able to solve the problem completely. However, agencies can cut down on churn by creating a positive company culture.

Here are 5 tips to begin slowing the churn:
(1) Communication: Talk to your employees. Find out what really is important to them. And don’t do it once but do it often. Share the good, bad and ugly with employees. An open door is better than a closed door.
(2) Compensation: Money and benefits still talk. Pay better than the competition – period. And offer flex time, vacation time and leave options.
(3) Work/life balance: To combat burnout and churn, a flexible, work-from-anywhere policy is key.
(4) Teamwork and appreciation: A collaborative and growth-based culture will keep humans happy vs. a top-down, rigid structure.
(5) Mentoring/coaching vs. managing: As with the tip prior, when we are mentors and coaches vs. lords, we make humans happy. Remember how you want to be treated.

How 280blue combats talent churn and why agencies are good for startups
When you get the talent piece right, the agency thrives. Since companies switch agencies when they lose their tactical support — the junior people who know their business because they are in the day-to-day – agencies should work hard to keep these employees happy.

We are an agency based on providing strategy as well as tactical support. We are an extension of your marketing team and you benefit from getting an outside perspective. We also strive to hear our employees and continue to improve the environment for their well-being. Happy employees will help keep clients happy.