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Manchester Focus: Would the city's creative industry benefit from one strong voice?

Every day this week we've brought you Manchester agencies' perceptions of their city and its reputation as a creative hotspot

Simon Landi, MD, Access Advertising

There are definitely too many groups – but one strong voice would also be counter-productive. I think there should be a number of ‘groups’ that represent the various creative/digital sectors within the region, but they should then share a common goal/code that has the region’s objectives at its heart. There are definitely too many groups with too many separate agendas that conflict and waste unnecessary energies.

Paul Casey, Internet Marketing Manager, 11 Out Of 10

There are many sub communities that have evolved over time in the city and the surrounding areas but I think this has had a positive effect on growth and collaboration in Manchester. In many ways, this reflects the industry. One strong voice may overpower the specialism from different areas and decrease the rapid rate of growth in the digital sector in Manchester.

Nick Rhind, Managing Director, CTI Digital

I believe the mass of networking and meet-ups does reflect the industry well as it’s become so specialised. When you’re so passionate about what you do, you need to be with similar people. As a more technical person, if I go an SEO meet-up talking about new techniques I’m not getting involved and therefore it’s not enjoyable for anyone. To gain recognition, one single voice would be great, which is why I joined Manchester Digital. We’re working on improving things at MD but it takes time and I’m hoping with the new additions this year we can make real progress with the new site we’re building to integrate all the groups in Manchester and help get all the micro groups represented.

Reuben Webb, Creative Director, IAS B2B

Diversity is to be encouraged. One strong voice should come from one strong sense of community, not pushing figureheads to the fore. Can you imagine it? Rob Morrice and Nicky Unsworth would never shut up. But we’ve got the MIN and that’s doing a good job of representing us.

Christian James, Managing Director, The If Agency

Not surprisingly, there are many groups at present….defined by sector or channel. There are some outstanding groups doing some great work supporting their specific area. The MPA are probably best placed to unite the various groups due to their agnostic and not-for-profit stance. This would give the region a vehicle to collectively celebrate world class talent and ultimately attract business for the benefit of all.

Wayne Silver, director of new business, One Marketing Communications

There are key overall bodies such as the IPA and the CIPR who are placing increasing emphasis on ‘the regions’. Apart from that, I think that there is a healthy and diverse mix of organisations which appeal to different peer group aspirations and different budgets. Just in the last month I’ve been to events held by the IPA, MiNetwork and The Marketing Society and they have all been excellent so I have no complaints. Perhaps, in light of the current debate raging over the plurality of media ownership in the UK, we should be cherishing the fact that we have a huge diversity of opportunities for the industry to network, learn and, in light of our busy awards schedule, show off a bit.

Garry Byrne, MD, Reading Room Manchester

I think the best way to encourage and develop ideas and concepts is to keep them small and loosely organised - too much rigidity can stifle creative thinking. That said, it would be good to have someone overseeing such things from a distance, not only to ensure adequate support but also to make sure that we're shouting about it enough.

Julian Gratton, Managing Director & Creative Director, Red C

I’m not sure one strong voice can speak for the entire industry to be honest. You’ll always have groups more interested in ideas than results and you’ll always have pockets of people more interested in words than pictures. I’m a big believer in celebrating diversity and I’d prefer more small specialist groups, than one that tried to be all things to all men.

Mike Moran, MD, MojoFuel

I think because of the diversity of agencies in Manchester the mixture of groups or organisations is probably a fair representation. I think it would be very difficult to put everything under one voice, although it might be interesting to try. You would certainly need buy in from at least 70% of agencies of all types, big and small.

Steve Peters, Code Computerlove

Digital by its nature is the collaboration of specialists. The existence of these groups simply reflects the way the industry works. There are organisations like the MPA and Manchester Digital who perform more of a unifying and spokesperson role. Mostly these organisations collaborate well.

Paul Heaton, Creative Director, Reform Creative

The problem with one strong voice is it becomes one strong clique. One strong clique has the potential to seriously damage Manchester’s amazing variety of talent by steering it one direction. I think it should be left alone so that everyone has the opportunity of being part of the great Manchester creative model in which many groups make up the whole and maintain the essence of creativity and individuality.

Phil Marshall, Owner, Shoot The Moon

I’m always of the belief that the best networking opportunities are the ones that don’t feel like it – and are certainly not described as such. Based on the fact that there are so many ‘groups’ now and the general agenda they have, it would be hard to suggest that they represent the industry in any way. Any successful business should network without thinking about it. It’s not something you diarise; it should happen naturally at any given opportunity.

Fergus McCallum, CEO, TBWA\Manchester

Some reflect the industry well, others less so. There are too many. The community lacks a single voice, a common agenda and a vision for growth. The city needs a voice that can play the scene into the national and international client context so that they can clearly see that something interesting and inspiring is happening here.

IAS B2B, TBWA\Manchester, CTI Digital, Code Computerlove, RedC, Reading Room, One Marketing Communications and If Agency are members of MiNetwork. To find out how MiNetwork can help your agency raise its profile and grow visit the MiNetwork website.