Laying the foundations for a solid client-agency relationship by setting the ground rules early

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Blog post originally posted on Small Business Charter article.

In an increasingly competitive world in which marketing agencies are prolific, how best should they retain clients, and how can a relationship between client and agency be set up in the first place to ensure longevity? Two academics at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) are researching this relationship with a view to advising both parties how to lay solid foundations from the start.

For the last four years, Professor Tim Hughes and Dr Mario Vafeas have endeavoured to find out what makes a successful and long-lasting relationship between agencies (creative and digital), and their clients (usually marketers).

Beginning in 2013, their research project initially involved interviewing 25 people on both sides of existing business relationships, to ascertain what their common issues were. Since then, the researchers have also used a combination of one-to-one interviews, focus groups, workshops and survey questionnaires to gather more data from clients and agency account managers.

The results reveal some of the typical challenges both sides face. “You tend to find that agencies have common complaints about their clients, and vice versa,” says Vafeas. “However things are not getting better and in fact are getting worse,” he adds.

The first challenge that has emerged from the research is the power imbalance between both sides. The client controls the purse strings and, because the agency is trying to hold on to the account, their creatives may not always tell them what needs to be said through fear of negatively affecting the relationship.

To counter this imbalance, one of the first things for agencies to think about is whether they are compatible with the company commissioning them, explains Vafeas. “Working with clients where there is a good fit helps the subsequent relationship,” he says.

Establishing a modus operandi on how the two will interact from the beginning is also extremely important. “Explaining to the client at the outset that they don’t intend to impose their way of working on them, but instead want them to get the best possible work out of the agency is key,” says Vafeas. “That investment needs to be made upfront,” he adds, suggesting this is more important than a detailed contract, which can sometimes be off-putting for both parties.

Says Hughes: “A lot of it is about agencies understanding what clients want, and clients understanding what they need to do to get the best out of agencies.” He adds: “This is very much a co-creative process.”

It is also vital that agencies fully understand the clients’ business and that they do not tell them what they already know, say the researchers. “Making sure the creative output is exceptional is key, as many clients can get work done in-house, so if they go to an agency they want something that stands out,” says Vafeas.

Hughes and Vafeas have also observed that there is sometimes a disconnect in the way the two parties want to communicate. They have noticed that agency staff are invariably aged under 30 while brand managers are often in their 50s. The former tend to prefer email, according to the academics, while the latter prefer direct contact. “In the past, a face-to-face interaction was fundamental to building a relationship, but we are now finding this doesn’t happen so much anymore,” says Vafeas. Despite occasional geographical constraints, agencies might therefore consider a more personal approach, he suggests, in order to nurture a stronger relationship.

With a view to sharing their findings and helping practitioners, Vafeas and Hughes work with business networks such as Bristol Media and the Chartered Institute of Marketing, hosting workshops to share results and asking participants to talk about implications for their businesses. They also host seminars, including with the Design Business Association in London. They also organise workshops with individual agencies.

Finally, their findings have also led the academics to incorporate sessions on how to optimise business relationships into the University’s Business and Management degree, as they see this as a vital skill for graduates.

Written by Jeremy Allen, Writer and Content Developer, UWE Bristol Business School

Honorary Degree awarded to Gillian Camm for commitment to UWE Bristol

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Gillian Camm is to be awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of the University (Hon DUniv) by the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) in recognition of her commitment and contribution to the University in the role of UWE Bristol Chair of the Board of Governors.

Gillian is Chair of the Board of the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education and Senior Independent Director of Wessex Water.

Gillian has held non-executive positions in a variety of organisations including in the Home Office, the General Medical Council and the law firm Capsticks. Her last executive position was a Board director of Clerical Medical Investment Group. Prior to that she was a partner in Hay Management Consultants where she developed a substantial South West office.

Gillian is a member of the Society of Merchant Venturers and the Honourable Gloucestershire Company and holds the position of the Deputy Lieutenant for Gloucestershire. She is also a Vice President of Quartet Community Foundation.

The Honorary Degree of Doctor of the University (Hon DUniv) will be conferred on Gillian Camm at the Degree Ceremony of the Faculty of Business and Law at Bristol Cathedral on Wednesday 12 July at 17:00.

Honorary Degree for Peaches Golding OBE

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Peaches Golding OBE is to be awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of the University (Hon DUniv) by the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) in recognition of her contribution, service and commitment to Business.

Peaches Golding OBE is Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for the County and City of Bristol. Appointed in 2017, she will retire at the end of 2028.

Peaches is a highly experienced, award winning director and non-executive director having gained experience in sectors such as utilities, media, health, education and recruitment sectors. Her areas of specialism include corporate responsibility and strategic marketing and communications. She is a persuasive public speaker, trusted and respected campaigner and business leader.

Peaches established a marketing and communications consultancy in 1992 and for 17 years she was commissioned by one of HRH The Prince of Wales’s Charities, (the UK’s leading corporate responsibility charity), to focus on leadership development, diversity and change management. Her consultancy clients included Government Office for the South West, Office of Deputy Prime Minister, Business Link, Environment Agency, EDF Energy, Bowater Pharmaceuticals, British Steel, among others.

Peaches was a Non-Executive Director of the North Bristol NHS Trust and of GWR West Limited (where she was a member of the Board that won the franchise from Ofcom, the communications regulator).

She was the Independent Chair of the Regional Advisory Council of ITV West (1997 to 2006), Independent Chair of the Viewer’s Advisory Panel of ITV West Country (2006 to 2017), a member of the Ethnic Minority Business Forum (2004 to 2006), the Home Office representative on the Avon & Somerset Police Authority (2000 to 2008), an Independent Governor of the University of the West of England (2000 to 2008) and a member of the General Chiropractic Council (1996 to 2004).

Peaches is currently Independent Chairman of the Bristol Water Challenge Panel (the committee that assures the regulator Ofwat that the customer’s priorities are central to the business and investment programme), a Board Member of Moon Consultancy (an executive search, selection and recruitment consultancy for senior executive and Board level posts) and a Trustee of the ss Great Britain.

Peaches was appointed by The Queen to the ancient and historic role of High Sheriff of the County and City of Bristol 2010-2011. She was awarded an OBE in 2009 for services to minority ethnic people in the South West and was recognised by the Bristol Post and Bath Chronicle in 2015 for her ‘Outstanding Contribution to Business in Bristol and Bath’ in the Women in Business Award.

Peaches graduated from the University of N Carolina, USA with a BA (Biology) degree and awarded an Honorary MBA by the University of West of England in 2010. She is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

Responding the award Peaches said, “I am thrilled and deeply honoured to be awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of the University. To receive this tremendous honour is far beyond my expectations and an enormous pleasure for my family, colleagues and me. Bristol is a city that I dearly love and I shall cherish this Honorary Degree in recognition of my contributions to it. Thank you so very much”.

She is married to Bob Golding (a former Zoo Director of the Zoological Gardens at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, Executive Director of Cotswold Wild Life Park and Founding Director of Natural Habitats Ltd). Peaches and Bob have one son Charles (who was awarded a Foundation degree at the University of the West of England before graduating from the London College of Printing).

This Honorary Degree of Doctor of the University (Hon DUniv) will be conferred at the Awards Ceremony of the Faculty of Business and Law at Bristol Cathedral on Friday 14 July at 10:30.

Entrepreneur Luke Johnson to be awarded Honorary Degree

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Luke Johnson is to be awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Business Administration (HON DBA) by the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) in recognition of his service to entrepreneurship.

Luke Johnson is a leading figure in private equity and the restaurant industry and the pioneer behind several instantly recognisable high-street brands.

An Oxford medical graduate, he began his career as a media analyst at Grieveson Grant, before being appointed as Chairman of PizzaExpress PLC in 1993. The business grew from 12 to over 150 restaurants during his tenure.

In 1999, he started Signature Restaurants, which owned The Ivy, Le Caprice and the Belgo chain, before establishing the Strada restaurant concept. The total proceeds from these two disposals were in excess of £90 million.

Luke is the Chairman of Risk Capital Partners, a private equity firm he co-founded in 2001, as well as Chairman and part owner of Gail’s bakeries, Neilson Active Holidays and Patisserie Holdings PLC.

He also serves on the board of Brompton Bicycles and is chairman of the Gaucho restaurant business. He also chairs Brighton Pier Group PLC. He was appointed Chairman of StartUp Britain in 2012 and, a year later, he created a think tank called The Centre for Entrepreneurs.

During his time as the Chairman of Channel 4 Television (2004 – 2010) the organisation enjoyed record ratings and revenues. He has also previously served as Chairman of the Royal Society of Arts and as a Governor of the University of the Arts. As well as being the Chairman of the Institute of Cancer Research and the Almeida Theatre, Luke writes weekly for The Sunday Times, and, until 2015, he contributed a weekly column to The Financial Times for seven years.

Commenting on his award Luke said, “I am very grateful to UWE Bristol for this honour. Every effort all of us can make to encourage more entrepreneurs matters. They generate new companies, jobs, innovation, tax and exports. Entrepreneurs are the future, and the more of them there are, then the better off we will all be.”

The Honorary Degree of Doctor of Business Administration (HON DBA) will be conferred at the Awards Ceremony of the Faculty of Business and Law at Bristol Cathedral on Wednesday 12 July at 14:00.

Svetlana Cicmil to receive lifetime achievement award for research

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Svetlana Cicmil, Director of Doctoral Research in the Bristol Business School and Bristol Law School is to receive a lifetime achievement award for her research activities.

Svetlana will be the 2017 recipient of the Project Management Institute (PMI) Lifetime Research Achievement Award.

The PMI are the world’s largest professional body in the field of project management with 500,000 members across the globe, promoting and advancing the profession worldwide.

The annual award is given to individuals or groups in recognition of outstanding contribution that has significantly advanced the concepts, knowledge, and practices of project management through a unique, influential and sustained published body of academic research.

Svetlana receives the award for co-founding and leading a scholarly movement known as Making Projects Critical, and authoring a related collection of work including research monographs, book chapters and peer-reviewed papers over the past decade.

Svetlana said:

I am very proud of this award. It tops up a number of other national and international recognitions of the research my team and I have done to highlight new theoretical avenues and understandings of project-based organising, project management practice and projectified society.

I would like to emphasise a wider and equally important aspect of the award – my teaching and engagement with practitioners during my long-standing career here at UWE that has significantly informed and, in turn, been enhanced by my studies in this field. I’m grateful to all my students and colleagues for their support.

Svetlana will receive her award at the PMI Professional Award ceremony in Boston, Massachusetts on Wednesday 14 June.

Hugo Gaggiotti completes successful research, partnership and recruitment trip to South America and Jordan

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In early May, Bristol MBA Programme Director Hugo Gaggiotti visited South America and Jordan as part of a research and recruitment trip.

Whilst in Chile, he lectured at the  at the EQUIS-AACSB accredited Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUUC) and the triple crown (AMBA-EQUIS-AACSB) accredited Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú.

He also held recruitment and partnership meetings at Universidad Chileno-Britanica de Cultura and Universidad Central de Santiago.

In Jordan, he presented the MBA and interviewed potential students at the American University of Madaba and worked with UWE agents in Amman.

 

UWE Bristol links up with Glastonbury Festival to promote sustainability

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The University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) has agreed a formal partnership with Glastonbury Festival building on existing collaborations between the university and the festival on sustainability projects, which will last for five years.

Professor Steve West, Vice-Chancellor at UWE Bristol has visited Worthy Farm with colleagues involved in sustainability projects with the festival, to meet Michael Eavis and see the work of the festival.

The agreement formalises ongoing work between the two organisations which over the past three years has seen UWE Bristol academics and students carrying out innovative sustainability projects and students undertaking voluntary internships to develop their understanding of event management.

Since 2015, a Pee Power’™urinal that turns urine into electricity – designed by researchers at UWE Bristol – has been in operation at the festival. Researchers and workers from Oxfam and Dunster House shelter manufacturers have used the festival as a field trial in advance of planned trials in refugee camps in developing countries.

The urinal has showcased a technology in its relative infancy that has the potential to change the lives of those living in countries where sanitation and electricity are off grid.

Bristol Business School MSc Events Management and MSc Sustainable Development in Practice students undertake research designed to help festival organisers reduce waste in the campsites and encourage campers to take their belongings home. The resulting data and recommendations are used to assist the festival in achieving their environmental goals. This year, two MSc Events Management students have also secured internships to volunteer in the organisational hub at Worthy Farm offering them a fascinating insight into the operation of the world’s largest greenfield festival.

UWE students will also research energy efficiency measures in collaboration with the festival power providers, stage production teams and mobile traders.

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VC Steve West and Fiona Jordan at Glastonbury Festival

Associate Dean for External Engagement, Fiona Jordan who has been heavily involved with the project from start commented:

I am delighted that we now have an official partnership with Glastonbury Festival to work together on a range of sustainability projects. This provides further exciting opportunities for our MSc Events Management and BA Business with Events Management students to undertake research and to get valuable experience volunteering within the largest greenfield music and performing arts festival in the world.

The agreement between the University and the festival states:

‘The parties commit themselves to exploring mutually beneficial collaborative projects promoting sustainable development and providing valuable opportunities for students to gain experience of working in this unique environment.’

Alumni networking event at the new Bristol Business School – 31st May 2017

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The new Bristol Business School, a £55 million pound state of the art building which home the Bristol Business School (BBS) and the Bristol Law School (BLS), opened its doors in April.

Features of the new building include two showcase law courts, a city trading room, a 300 seat lecture theatre, two Harvard lecture theatres, an incubator for Team Entrepreneur students, technology enhanced and flexible learning spaces, IT suites, meeting facilities and parking for businesses, an external business engagement space, a central social space and a café.

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Key professional organisations will have a base in the new building enabling barristers, accountants, small business owners and start-ups to mix with staff and students in the learning and social areas.

To celebrate the opening of the new building, the Bristol Business School and Bristol Law School are hosting networking drinks exclusively for their alumni on the 31st May from 6pm.

The event will give alumni a chance to experience the building first hand and networking with their fellow alumni.

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The networking drinks take place on Wednesday 31st May from 6pm in the new building. If you would like more information please email anna6.jones@uwe.ac.uk. You can register a place here.

 

Team Entrepreneurship student wins TARGETjobs undergraduate student of the year award

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Oliver Haddon, a third year student studying Team Entrepreneurship at Bristol Business School, has won The Future Leader in Business Undergraduate of the Year award in the Annual TARGETjobs competition.

12 prestigious awards were up for grabs, including Future CFO, Future Business Leader and the One to Watch, alongside more industry-focused categories such as Computer Science, Engineering and Management.

Applications were submitted by 3,441 undergraduate from universities across the country for one of the 12 awards and 1,050 made it through the assessment process. This consisted of three stages, including an application and questionnaire; an online assessment with situational, numerical and inductive reasoning tests; and finally, an in-person assessment with the respective award sponsor.

Oliver was presented with his award by writer and television presenter Konnie Huq and by Phillipa Jackson, Mars Petcare Head of People and Organisation. Mars were the award sponsors.

Oliver said,

“I would definitely recommend applying for the awards, I’ve enjoyed every part of it and it’s really stretched and pushed me. I am about to finish Business (Team Entrepreneurship) which has been fundamental to my success in this award. The course teaches you key business skills but also how to apply them in the real world. The course allows you to really work on things you are passionate about and focus on your own personal development. I have been able to complete an internship alongside my degree to aid my learning and co-founded a marketing company with two other students on the course.

“I owe a lot to my business coach, Akin Ojolo, the staff involved in the course and the University itself Throughout my three years I have always felt supported by UWE and that they really are there to help you get through your degree. They also provide countless extra-curricular activities and awards that are valued by employers. I was lucky enough to be involved in the UWE apprentice challenge sponsored by Samsung and my group came away with a mentor and the tech to start our company.

“If you want to be proactive in starting a business, or get real experience to set a platform for your career, then this course is very effective. I have managed to secure a job with Mars after winning this award, however when the time is right I know that I will run my own organisation. The course doesn’t limit you from seeking employment after university and all employers I have networked with have shown great interest in what we do on the course, I just don’t feel quite ready to take that leap yet, but when the opportunity arises I will follow my passion of entrepreneurship.”

Each award was sponsored by a prominent graduate recruiter — ACCA, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, E.ON, FDM, First Names Group, Gazprom, Laing O’Rourke, L’Oréal and Rolls-Royce — all offering fantastic prizes for the winners, including paid internships, trips abroad and meetings with senior executives.

Now in its eighth year, the TARGETjobs Undergraduate of the Year awards continues to recognise and celebrate the best student talent in the UK.

A full list of the winners, along with more information about them, can be found at www.undergraduateoftheyear.com/winners/2017

More about the Team Entrepreneurship degree can be found here.

Relational coordination mechanisms for sustainable food supply chains: the role of farmer cooperatives in Brazil (British Academy and Newton Fund project)

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Associate Professor in Enterprise Operations Management  Vikas Kumar is working with Brazilian researchers from University of Fortaleza to investigate the role of farmer cooperatives in the promotion of sustainable organic food supply chains in Brazil and transfer best practices from the UK.

As a part of this project Dr Vikas Kumar recently  visited University of Fortaleza to deliver a two day workshop on Sustainable Supply Chain Management. The event was very well attended by more than 150 staff and students.

The workshop was jointly funded by the University of Fortaleza and British Academy-Newton Fund. Dr Kumar and Dr Daiane Neutzling are the principal investigators of the project.

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In the workshop Dr Kumar presented his talk on ‘Sustainability and Short Food Supply Chains’ where he discussed the potential linkages between the two topics. Other keynote speakers attending the event included Prof Stefan Seuring (Kassel University, Germany), Prof Marcia (The Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil) and Prof Susan Pereira (The Escola de Administração de Empresas de São Paulo).

Dr Kumar also delivered a talk on current funding opportunities with UK for the Brazilian researchers and facilitated a mini-workshop for their current PhD students.

Prior to visiting Brazil, Dr Kumar was invited to the British Academy office in London to give a poster presentation.