The pandemic has made us all re-evaluate how we do business and what we can do to pivot or stay relevant. In my case, it has meant launching a full-fledged production house that oversees content creation, commercials and short films. Having started the PR firm Shadani Consulting five years ago, it may seem like a no-brainer to add in-house video production capabilities to the mix, but when one realises the huge investment that is required – in cameras, lighting equipment and infrastructure – it’s understandable why smaller boutique agencies tend to shy away.
Having made the leap, and hired experienced and award-winning directors, sound engineers and colourists to join our team, I quickly realised that it’s impossible to maintain the momentum of new clients that is required to offset the level and quality of production that we offer. Moreover, the market is flooded with videographers and directors, spanning a range of abilities, who are approaching clients directly. So, rather than trying to undercut on prices or compromise on quality, we opted to go another route. We decided to offer collaborative services whereby boutique PR agencies can white-label our whole video production outfit and rest assured that we won’t try to poach or influence their clients in any way.
This addresses one of the biggest hurdles that independent PR agencies have: how to be able to fulfil the growing video production requirements of their clients, without in-house capabilities. And that’s where we come in – we bring in expertise, skill and professionalism, but most importantly we leave our egos at the door.
Collaboration is really the only way that smaller boutique agencies will survive. The last year has wreaked economic havoc and, as a result, clients have higher expectations but have shrunk retainers, reduced budgets and lengthened payment periods. To operate successfully in such an environment, we have to recognise the pain points of our industry and try to bridge them, and that’s why we choose to work with other boutique PR agencies, rather than compete for their clients’ business.
At Shadani Consulting, we are extremely lucky that we have a roster of our own agency clients that help us push our creative boundaries, and it’s our ambition to support other agencies in pushing the same creative boundaries with their clients. One such example of in-house client video work is the ‘Trailblazer’ campaign that we conceptualised, directed and shot on behalf of Canon Middle East (and that you can find on Campaign’s website).
The industry is changing and the lines between competing and rival agencies are blurring. Undoubtedly one of the best decisions I ever made was to replace the word ‘competition’ with ‘collaboration’ and let go of needing to ‘claim’ our work. I have learned that my responsibility lies in ensuring that we put our heart and soul into creating something special, and that ultimately the work will speak for itself.