Phil Adams: A way forwardManifesto is such a tainted word right now that I refuse to have one. Likewise vision, mission, agenda or even plan. Instead there’s a list of things we can do to improve the lot of IPA member agencies in Scotland.
Before I run through that list, it’s worth remembering just who ‘we’ are. The Scottish IPA committee is made up of people who also have businesses to run. And these businesses compete fiercely against each other in a market that’s in danger of being oversupplied. In this context the track record of the committee is remarkable. We have delivered a series of initiatives that put common interest ahead of competition, and done so with a minimum of bureaucracy and ‘committee-itis’.
It’s our job to add value to something that is already inherently valuable; namely, IPA membership. If the services and resources of the IPA in London are properly understood and properly utilised, then IPA membership represents excellent value regardless of anything we do in Scotland. As I said in my ‘inaugural speech’ – a term that I’m about as fond of as ‘manifesto’ – we represent the tip of the IPA iceberg.
However, we may be the tip of the iceberg but we’re more than the icing on the cake.
Historically, our two biggest deals have been training and the Scottish IPA Effectiveness Awards.
The seven-stage IPA training programme is excellent. Unfortunately it can also be expensive, especially when travel expenses are factored in. The Scottish IPA has augmented the seven stages with a programme of training events that have been relevant to our members, excellent value and of reasonably high frequency.
These training events have made a significant contribution to continuous professional development (CPD) within Scottish agencies. In 2004, 13 out of 18 member agencies achieved CPD accreditation from the IPA. At 72 per cent this means that we are ahead of the game versus the national picture (40 per cent). We need to build on this solid foundation because, by 2007, CPD accreditation across all staff will be a non-negotiable condition of IPA membership. In particular this will mean beefing up our training offering for those in the creative disciplines.
The Scottish version of the IPA Effectiveness Awards was established to provide an entry-level competition for smaller agencies, to demonstrate to local clients the commercial value delivered by Scottish agencies, and to help raise general standards of planning and evaluation. This year, from a record 32 entries, 18 papers have been shortlisted. The Awards dinner will be at Prestonfield House, on 16 June.
There is also a new IPA Effectiveness competition this year, pithily called the 2005 IPA Effectiveness Awards for Small to Medium sized Agencies (SMA). This is a national competition, open to Scottish agencies, and with entry criteria that are similar to the Scottish Awards. These awards are an opportunity to measure ourselves against the work of all but the top 25 UK agencies. I hope that most, if not all, of our 18 shortlisted papers will be entered into, and do well at, the SMA Awards. If we are disappointed either with the general quality of entries for the Scottish IPA Awards and/or with our showing at the SMA Awards we should perhaps review the purpose, structure and/or timing of future Scottish competitions.
To these two big deals of training and Effectiveness Awards we’re in the process of adding a third.
One of the key themes of my predecessor, Ian McAteer, was to make the Scottish IPA more effective at lobbying the public sector for enhanced support for our industry. What quickly became apparent is that to lobby effectively you need the right ammunition in the form of robust, credible data.
To this end an industry study has been commissioned in partnership with Scottish Enterprise and various trade bodies representing a broad spectrum of marketing communications disciplines. Following a tender process a consultancy firm has been appointed and it is due to report back in mid-July.
This study will help greatly with our lobbying efforts. It will also give us important insights into the state of the nation’s communications industry – its scope, size, economic contribution, market share and competitiveness. We shall use these insights to identify further ways in which we can support our members.
Without wanting to prejudge the findings of the survey, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that promoting the Scottish industry as a centre of excellence to clients who aren’t currently using Scottish agencies will become increasingly important. And later in the year we’ll announce an expanded to-do list that will include centre of excellence initiatives.
If we want to be seen as a centre of excellence we have to act like one. This is about self-confidence and respect. If we don’t respect and value ourselves, we can hardly expect to be respected and valued by clients.
So, relatively quickly, we’ll be looking to put in place some initiatives that will hopefully be adopted by all members to promote best practice in the areas of agency selection and remuneration.
Across the board our aim is to do what we can to help our members flourish, but not at the expense of each other. I hope that doesn’t sound too much like a manifesto.