This month the With Global Alliance turns 1…and I am proud as punch. The With Global Alliance is a network of specialist tech PR agencies that I formed, with our international partners, over the course of 2019. In January 2020 we launched with 5 founding members in the UK, US (Affect), China (WEdge), India (Ideosphere) and Singapore (Bud Communications). Our aim was to transform the way global PR was delivered to tech companies by combining the power of boutique agencies led by hands-on senior teams, with decades of deep experience in tech within their markets.
Of course no-one could have foreseen the challenges thrown in our path over the course of the year. But this is where the With Global Alliance truly came into its own. Instead of moving our all-agency calls quarterly, we kept them monthly, ripped up the call agenda and put everything from survival strategies to team motivation on there instead. We doubled our membership, despite the downturn, and added partners in Brazil (FirstCom), South Africa (GinjaNinjaPR), Netherlands (DOK30), Germany (Frau Wenk) and France (La Nouvelle Agency).
These are the three things I have learned from our international alliance over the last year.:
Strength in numbers
Access to such inspiring agency leaders on a month by month basis has been an empowering force for me. In those moments when you think ‘I am making the right choices?’, ‘Is there more I could be doing?’, ‘Can I crawl under a rock and hide until the world gets back to normal?’, their passion for collaboration and endless energy has astounded me. We have shared new initiatives that partners have tried out, new products they have launched to clients, new ways to pimp a Zoom call or a pitch, and new ways to bring our teams together. Whilst I have long advocated and arranged mentors for my team, this group of stellar individuals took on a similar role for one another. I can heartily recommend finding agencies that ‘look like you’ for a similar experience.
Having hoped to launch an exchange programme between our teams, we had to settle for a digital experience instead and began quarterly Global Get Togethers for every member of every agency. Understanding that they were connected to like-minded colleagues around the world, facing the same challenges of how to reach depleted editorial teams and how to run a brainstorm online made a huge difference and gave them a boost.
Trust is the key
While new business may not have been as predictable through 2020 as we might have hoped, we still managed to share 25 leads and secure valuable pitches and business opportunities across the member agencies. Whether it is us in the UK partnering with Germany on an auto cyber client, or Singapore and India collaborating on a credit scoring fintech disruptor, we are championing each others’ businesses around the world and our clients are benefitting from the trust that collaboration through the With Global Alliance engenders.
Is it a small world after all?
We know that for many tech companies, the pandemic has not slowed an appetite to expand internationally. For some it has even accelerated it. As we are all working virtually, connecting with audiences on the other side of the world seems ever more possible.
So many times we are asked what it takes to succeed in markets around the world, and while the pandemic has indeed created some challenges that we see in almost every country (smaller editorial teams, resources taken up on breaking news, a rise in pay to play), we still see significant differences. Having my With Global Alliance colleagues on hand to offer those deep local insights has sharpened our whole team’s sensitivities to communicating across borders. In fact, team members from every agency will be presenting how the media works in their market to one another in our next Global Get Together and we are currently recording a series of videos by each agency leader on a similar topic which will be shared on www.withglobalalliance.com and on social.
The ultimate collaboration
Even though the temptation comes, in these often terrifying times, to hunker down, turn the outside world off and focus on the familiar, I can honestly say that lifting our heads to the horizon and sharing international goals has never been more rewarding, in more ways than one.