The making of a purpose
We first met Daniela Graicar seven years ago. In her little room, inspiring us with her newly formed company: D&A. A public relations company whose success was the basis of Grupo MTCom, a communication group composed by five different companies, with more than 70 employees.
She, who once was just an inspiration for us, also became a client. Our first work was in 2013, regarding MTCom Eventos’ (the group’s events company) new brand and positioning. A beautiful six months project which gave meaning, name and face to a company that needed it. Everything was already on the go for the transition for the new positioning…
But not everything happens as we’d like, at least on the first moments.
Just after presenting the new brand, we received some major information: Grupo MTCom would give room to PROS (PR Outstanding Solutions), a sole PR company. We couldn't hide how surprised we were, since we would have to hold down the previous project and start another journey, which was nicely welcomed.
Even though PROS had a concise strategy behind it’s birth, there were two main problems that needed solving:
The first one was conceptual. What once were five different brands, with different goals, were bounded to become just one company. There was an urgent need to align and create an all-encompassing purpose, uniting every company towards the same path;
The second, structural. A single company urged for:
- an unified process (both creative and operational);
- a different organizational structure;
- products and services that reflected the new positioning.
With those big goals in mind, our work began.
ASSEMBLING THE TEAM
We couldn’t do as we did without the involvement of PROS’ people. From the start out, we had interactions and co-creative processes with Daniela, all the directors and with the team.
Our first round of interviews was meant to give us a clear understanding of the company and of the problems we were going to face throughout the project. At the time, we found a team whose bodies were in the same company, but whose minds were going towards different objectives. We knew that an alignment between the directors and managers would be necessary if the new company were to be successful.
From the get-go, our team was allocated inside PROS to get a clear view of the processes and its key enhancement points. Creative and operational (HR, commercial, administrative, financial) processes were mapped and analysed so that the new company could avoid some of the pitfalls and problems that Grupo MTCom had.
Besides that, the team conducted research with all the stakeholder chain (internal team, clients, international references and competitors) to find out some of the PR industry state of the art practices and, also, its major flaws.
We wanted to get a picture of what PROS could do like the others, but, mostly, how it could differentiate itself.
What could it do that nobody else did? How could it drive change throughout its own sector? How could it connect and solve the problems that its clients were facing, every single day?
FROM GOAL TO PURPOSE
A truthful purpose, for us, is created through the combination of four pillars:
1. The entrepreneur’s purpose;
2. The leadership’s purpose;
3. The team’s purpose;
4. The market’s and society’s need.
We dove into each one of those to create what would drive PROS’ future projects and strategy.
Dani’s will was to bring an international PR concept to Brazil. A PR that wasn’t only defined by its capacity to create clippings, to get journalists to write good pieces and to drive people to cool parties. But a PR that made sense in the modern world, that could connect the brand’s purpose to the need of its publics, driving up both financial results and brand recognition.
A somewhat different story and scenario was on the leadership mind, however. They were all open to the new company, to change the way PR was thought in Brazil. But, for them, the major problem was the competitiveness between the companies, the fact that they were fighting for the same clients, even though being part of the same group. They couldn’t find a way to work together and cooperate, creating integrated solutions for each client.
The team, on the other hand, felt that major potential was being wasted by the separateness of the companies and the competition amongst them. People wanted to work together, to talk to each other and to help other teams. We also saw that the team roles weren’t well defined, which caused confusion and rework for everyone. If we could fix that, both the team and the client would be a lot happier.
Whilst the internal background was thoroughly studied, our team looked outside. What were the main market problems? What could we do to help people solve them? There began our research, which pointed out to three main perspectives:
Trust is both a valuable and scarce resource in Brazil’s institutional scenario;
Brazil’s institutional framework — it’s government, major companies and media — suffered some backlash in the last few years, losing the trust they once had. Since 2013, the country saw great political disturbance, due to generalized mistrust in the government, which inevitably spread to companies and the media in general.
As a Public Relations agency, there should be a way to change that. But things couldn’t stay exactly the way they were. It was necessary to change how PR itself was made and thought about.
The Brazilian PR market is noisy…
Even though trust is a major Brazilian problem, the PR market doesn’t pay too much attention to it. Actions and strategies currently developed seemed to make a lot of noise with incremental and short-sighted solutions — huge ad equivalence and media impressions numbers — that didn’t really mean anything valuable to strengthen the bonds between brands and their publics.
… and it's not user driven.
The meaning of “publics” was also a problem. What we saw was that PR companies couldn’t really see who their clients' publics were. Was it the client? Was it the user of the product? Or even the team? For whom should the work be done and how?
With all those things in mind, a purpose was born.
A REAL PR
Real PR. That’s what was missing in the market. A company that would look not only at the client, but also at the client’s client and see what they needed, what were their issues, ideas and perceptions.
A single company, with a unified goal and positioning, that would try it’s hardest to integrate teams and develop solutions that encompass all major PR areas: experience, relationship and content.
Now with a well-thought purpose, the time came to bring it to life.
BEAUTIFUL PURPOSE, BEAUTIFUL BRAND
Our main framework for designing businesses consists of four major steps:
PURPOSE / PROCESSES / CULTURE / STRUCTURE
Although being a necessity, a purpose is not sufficient to create a structured business: culture and processes must also be fully developed. We know that this process takes years to happen, but part of our job is to make sure that the right pillars are in place when the company starts acting upon the new purpose.
So we focused in both processes and people, bringing together PROS’ leadership team to help us in the development of three major areas of change:
Brand experience (Culture)
The first step was making the brand’s new purpose stand out in every client interaction. Here, we’ll let images speak for themselves:
A new organizational structure (Process and culture)
As a single company, PROS couldn’t maintain the organizational structure that it had before. It wasn't enough just to bring everybody together: old problems would still be there, specially the separateness between teams.
To solve that problem and reflect the new purpose, we had to create new team roles, workflows and processes. Again, co-creation was a necessity, which we found the hard way.
During the first half of the project, we created the structure that we thought would better reflect the purpose and fix the problems the company had. But when we presented it to PROS’ team, some hidden problems came out, showing flaws in our concept. In face of that, we resorted to our main know-how: co-creation.
The leadership dove in to help us with the new structure. As with products and services, we created some more workshops to define and validate it. What were five different companies and teams became a “somewhat” mixed structure with three major areas: relationship, content and experience.
Besides, a new area was formed: innovation. With that, the seed was planted; an innovation team whose purpose was to create value for clients through joint PR strategies, bringing people from the three other areas together in smaller projects. Their role (far from being trendy) was to start the transition to a new culture of mixing teams. A major shift from separateness to total integration wasn’t only difficult, it was impossible.
Team roles were redefined and a macro workflow was developed.
Products and services (Process)
Our main problem here was creating something that differentiated itself from what the market, as a whole, offered, but that still maintained some resemblance to what the PR world was. We wanted to go far, but not too far.
Cooperation was the most important factor in this design process. Besides a whole lot of research, we also did six different workshops — with the leadership, with clients and the team — and interviews to structure and validate the products created.
Don’t leave “purpose alignment” to the middle of the process. If a great purpose is to be created, know beforehand what are the personal purposes of the most important actors involved. That means you’ll have more work at the beginning, but it prevents rework thereafter.
A lot more research must be done throughout the implementation process. Don’t ever think that the research done during “discover” will be sufficient for the whole process. Additional research, time and effort will be needed when things start happening and the team starts realizing that it’s not working as it should.
Co-creation isn’t simply a nice word. It’s a must when you’re dealing with major business changes. Major changes mean a lot of complexity. Some information will be available and found out right away, but some hidden problems won’t. And, once they show up, the best way to deal with them is by involving different profiles and perspectives. That way, all problems coming out can be quickly solved.
Organizational restructuring is a fragile moment for people. We learned that, when telling people what their new roles will be, we must make it as clear as possible and avoid any misunderstandings. The simpler, the better.
A deep financial understanding is necessary. A financial expert is necessary to make the best of product structuring and business model creation.
“An entrepeneur’s life is full of lonely and important decisions. After fifteen years constantly innovating, I came to realize that my business needed some deep change and that’s when I found DZN.
More than deliverables — that brought us a huge amount of oxygen, the understanding of my own team and reframed my products — I got new people to look, think and make decisive calls with me.”
Daniela Graicar, CEO of PROS.