Collaborate, don’t compete – the changing relationship between agency and client

As many of our clients continue to build their internal capabilities, the role of agencies is shifting. Many of the specialisms people once relied on us agencies for, can now be done in-house. It’s impractical, inefficient, and frankly, daft to go head-to-head against our own clients’ internal teams for work. Yet, we’re finding where we fit in this new landscape; providing other specialisms, skills and experience to augment and enhance our clients’ teams.

A seven year partnership with the Royal Navy’s Photographers

It’s been over seven years since we first started working with the Royal Navy. What started as a good old-fashioned supplier and client relationship has bloomed into an interconnected partnership. Long past the ‘seven-year itch’ we’ve reached a sweet spot; we know how each other tick and most importantly we know how to get the best out of one another – by working together.

Nothing epitomises the value in great agency/client collaboration than our relationship with the Royal Navy’s photographic branch (aka ‘The Phots’).

A lot of the award-winning content and campaigns featured on the Royal Navy’s websites and social channels can be accredited to the successful partnership between our creative and strategy teams working closely with the Navy’s photographers and videographers stationed around the world.

Like any successful relationship it’s one built on trust and respect, and it’s a model we try to replicate with all our clients. Instead of sticking to the “we’re the agency, we know best” party line, we’ve embraced the talent, knowledge, and experience of those who are ‘client-side’ to create more effective teams, utilising the best of both sides.

In the case of the Royal Navy – Phots’ are usually serving personnel that have moved from sailor to photographer through a programme of professional-level training. They understand the intricacies of organisation, the acronym (believe us, there are a lot of Naval acronyms) and more importantly understand Naval life. As an agency – this is gold. We can focus on the strategic and creative direction; briefing and directing their teams to get the content we need whenever we need it. In short, they’re supplier, clients and audience – all in one.

In return, our partnership helps to upskill their teams. We provide regular training on digital best practices, storytelling, and industry trends. We help judge the Peregrine Trophy (the well respected Navy photography and video award), and the individuals gain experience working with us; external subject specialists, world-class contractors, and experienced creatives – all helping to diversify their influences and outputs and give them industry exposure beyond their organisation.

We’ve been on battleships, submarines and remote Pacific islands together – getting to know one other on professional and personal level. They’re no longer clients, not even colleagues, I’m proud to say, we’re friends. Surely the model of any great relationship, working or otherwise.

To see some of the amazing winners of this year’s Peregrine Trophy that we have helped judge for the past 5 years.

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