Golin’s Will Sturgeon on the agency structure of the future

Golin kicked off a trend five years ago when it restructured around specialisms rather than clients and The Drum caught up with one of the agency’s senior members in London, executive director of strategy Will Sturgeon, to discuss how effective that model has been.

Will Sturgeon

"The g4 model has been very effective in two ways - it has allowed us to offer new and existing clients a more specialised service rather than putting generalists in front of clients, and enabled Golin to make better hires of people who are passionate about their specialist areas," explained Sturgeon.

Moving forward, the marketer, who is one of the judges for this year's Online Media Awards, says the focus for Golin will be on making the most of digital channels, producing rich content, and measurement.

"People are far more discerning about where they spend their budget, so measurement is more and more important. Our focus is on measuring in a way that shows meaningful return, because often the numbers agencies use to measure effectiveness are not worthwhile."

Sturgeon says their metric measurements are bespoke to each campaign. This helps position the agency as one with personalised offerings to clients, he said.

He then explained that the biggest challenge facing agencies is also a considerable opportunity, concerning the cross over between digital and content agencies, whose objectives are increasingly similar. Sturgeon warns agencies with tunnel vision "don’t get yourself into a corner by not working across the industry", saying people who are slow to react and don’t have the skills in place to compete and co-operate with a crossover of interests will lose out.

The Drum then asked Sturgeon for his view on wider industry trends and about the origin of his popular Media Blog.

What do you thinks politicians can learn from marketers especially when it comes to winning the presidential election?

"More sincerity in politics will be no bad thing. The attempt at sincerity among politicians has all started to sound very insincere, and is not working to bridge the gap between politicians and the public.

Golin did some research last year into the language used in the leaders’ debates, in the run up to the General Election. One of the big findings was the nonsense jargon, endless buzzwords and constant soundbites that really left a lot of voters cold and confused. People want sincerity and authenticity but the language too many politicians use is like the stuff of parody. Add to that these hackneyed tactics of reeling off endless anecdotes about people they’ve met on the campaign trail and it all just sounds very forced and insincere."

Why did you start The Media Blog?

"I have a journalistic background and I am very passionate about the media. I am keen to have an outlet, and to be part of conversation in the vibrant sometimes controversial media."

The Online Media Awards 2016 are open for entries until 9 March. Click here to register.

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