EconomyBand of Insiders: how to take advantage of a...

Band of Insiders: how to take advantage of a crisis to grow in triple digits

Band of Insiders took 10 years to hit the Latin market. The public relations agency was created in Mexico a decade ago with the vision of occupying a space in the communication industry in the country, but its name in English responds to the intention of having the potential to become an international brand .

However, the road has not been easy. The firm began as an ally of Circus Marketing and later became an independent agency that in 2017 entered the Colombian market through WeWork. Vivian Barón , CEO of the agency, describes this as a positive experience, although the agency was not prepared to take that step.

“We saw that it was easy to transfer our experience to the team and achieve the collaboration we were looking for. What happened is that at that time we were not ready to start selling the service at a Latin American level , so when the WeWork Colombia contract ended, they preferred to do the work in-house ”, details the directive.

Currently, the agency is preparing to enter the market in Colombia, Argentina and Panama, in order to serve the entire Latin American region . Unlike five years ago, Barón assures that this time they have achieved the business stability they were looking for, with processes that allow them to set foot elsewhere without neglecting the operation in Mexico.

But something that represented a springboard for the company was the pandemic. In 2020, Band of Insiders grew to triple digits , a number it had not reached since its founding. What happened? The growing need to gain a competitive advantage fueled the public relations and brand communications industry.

According to The Business Research Company, the global public relations market grew from around $88.13 billion in 2020 to $97.13 billion in 2021, reflecting an annual growth rate of 10.2%.

The forecast is that this increase will continue. According to the business research firm, this sector will be worth $129.35 billion in 2025 and $149.44 billion in 2026 , representing an annual growth rate of 9.8%.

The data shows that the panorama not only benefited agencies such as Band of Insiders, but also the sector in general , since a well-crafted public relations plan helps attract attention and increase the visibility of a brand’s product or service.

Before, agencies worked with a limited number of communication media, today we have a base that has quadrupled , taking into account digital versions, new formats, influencers, more channels, through which we can communicate our clients’ messages and develop a storytelling that has many outlets”, says Barón.

Expansión (E) How do you think public relations have evolved after the pandemic?
Vivian Barón (BV): I would say that in the last 10 years the public relations industry has changed a lot, but the evolution is much more marked since 2020 because everything has accelerated, although I think that the objective is still valid: the work has intensified in favor of the goals and objectives of the clients. Today an important competition issue proliferates, so the correct management of communication from a brand to its audiences becomes more relevant.

Public relations is one of the industries that grew the most in the pandemic. All the investment that was in other areas such as BTL ( below the line ) was transferred to influencers and public relations, and since a possible recession is coming, it is expected that public relations and influencer marketing agencies will continue to grow because we are Also in charge of crisis management.

E: What are the challenges of this industry in particular?
VB: Go as fast as the market goes, so that the adaptation is fast and efficient. We have to focus our service on digital, but it is also a digital operation in the sense that we have to become advisors to clients.

On the other hand, never in public relations would we have imagined that we would have a Paid Media area, sometimes when influencer marketing campaigns are developed, the client has to be accompanied with advice on how to enhance the content, and many times we also have to bear that hiring.

The door was opened for public relations to get involved in conversion, podcast, metaverse, content generation, insights and data in general, and it has been a revolution for agencies. Somehow, the industry had spent many years in the comfort of how things were done, of sending out a bulletin and making a negotiation. Now you have to be constantly checking trends, putting ideas on the table. It is a challenge because there is always a learning and adaptation curve.

E: After triple-digit growth, how has your growth been?
VB: We have grown an average of 25% per year, less in 2020, where we grew to three digits due to the rise in demand for our services, mainly influencer marketing. In the last year we have also invested in the area of human resources and starting this year we will begin to apply an annual engagement survey.

Currently 69 people work in the agency, but right now we are doing final interviews to create different work cells that give attention to the Latin markets. The idea is to start making a more focused sale in order to provide a regional service. We will have three independent offices, one in Colombia, one in Argentina and one in Panama, and we will use alliances in case we need to go to another of the Latin markets.

The hiring will be of local talent because we have had to live experiences where the press releases are not tropicalized and the results are not achieved. As much as we speak the same language, it is not the same culture, which is why we want local people who have relationships built in each of the markets where we will operate.

At the moment we do not have any confirmed clients in these markets, but some of the pitches that are coming to us already have this regional theme, so we think it will be easy to start.

E. How has the make-up of your client portfolio changed?
VB: Initially, most of the portfolio was made up of consumer brands, but three years ago we took on the task of opening our corporate communication area, which is now fully consolidated. Being a more serious service, we did not know if there was going to be an identification with the agency, but today we have an important portfolio in this area.

The public relations industry in Mexico is not so large that it is possible to have a specialization in a single sector. I think that one of the values of the agency is that we work for all kinds of sectors and that gives us more flexibility of thought and allows us to have more experience that we are offering to the diversity of clients.

E: Based on what criteria do you choose your clients?
BV: Until about three years ago, the reality is that 90% of our portfolio came to us without any sales effort. We selected clients in such a way that it was a company that valued the service. The second criterion is that there be a long-term commitment and we also wanted to build a portfolio of global clients, but without neglecting the growth of national brands.

E: Have you had a loss of clients that compromised the survival of the business?
BV: Until today, no. We invest a lot in the financial and administrative part of the agency. Usually we are the bank of the clients, a kind of lenders and sometimes we have to bear 120 days of payment. In 2019, an investment fund acquired 30% of the company, just to accompany us in that growth and we are waiting for these crisis situations not to happen. The fund is called Beamonte Capital.

I: How many clients do you currently have?
BV: We have a portfolio of 19 clients in Band of Insiders, including Grupo Heineiken, Adidas, Holcim, Scotiabank, Activia, Silk, Volvo, Hyundai and Cerveceros de México, with whom we already have a relationship of more than seven years.

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