There’s no room for trust in a mergers and acquisition process, but that’s where the hard line of business should be drawn and the warm fuzzy feelings of dealing with a friend should pervade pretty much all else a room of media professionals has been told in Sydney this morning.
As part of the Newspaper Works’ ‘Influential by nature’ campaign, agency staff as well as media and marketing professionals were treated to a hot breakfast and a stimulating panel session.
The panel featured Match Media CEO John Preston, Fairfax investigative journalist Kate McClymont, Seven West Media director of client partnerships Rowena Millward and Taronga Zoo’s head of carnivores Deb Price.
Speaking of the recent sale of Match Media to Publicis-owned Zenith Optimedia, Preston said that he had a 300-page legal document to prove that there is zero trust in the acquisition of a business.
He added however that the people he would work with after the sale was complete (Gerry Boyle, global managing partner/APAC chairman of ZenithOptimedia Asia Pacific) met with him well before the legal negotiation commenced and agreed how the relationship would work after it was completed.
“When the shit did hit the fan five months later in the conversations, inevitably as there are tension points in a negotiation, at least I could go back to that human element and say: Gerry, remember we spoke about this five months ago and we actually articulated what we wanted? That intent is getting a bit blurred in the negotiation, can you back me up?
“And he did and I think that gave me the human side that actually I have a good person to work with here and they’re looking after my interests and I will look after theirs . . . so there were two elements the hard arse negotiations up front and the soft human side in the background.”
Preston also told the room that there were four things that he focused on in all of his business dealings: credibility, consistency, reliability and integrity.
“What I do every year, or every second year, is check against my own personal values and see that I am delivering against that,” said Preston.
He said that the trick was to always put the client’s interests first and that will reward you in the long run.
“Help clients grow, focus on what’s important for your clients rather than what’s important for the agency. There are a lot of agencies out there that think how am I going to make money out of my clients, rather than how am I going to make money for my clients,” he said.
Preston pointed to Ikea, an account his agency has held for 13 years, and one he described as “highly profitable for both parties” as an example of how mutually beneficial an agency-client relationship can be when it’s based on trust.