Agency Leadership Podcast

Chip Griffin and Gini Dietrich

The Agency Leadership Podcast provides insights for agency owners and executives. Co-hosts Chip Griffin and Gini Dietrich share practical advice and industry news relevant to PR and marketing agency leaders.

All Episodes

Clients often want to know who at the agency does what. It might be because they want to understand the work that they're getting, but it also might be because they want to go directly to individuals for certain things.   Chip and Gini tackle this important topic in this episode of the Agency Leadership Podcast.   You need to be clear with your team about what their individual roles are so that there isn't confusion. There needs to be a single person responsible for the completion of each task (even if they need to work with others to accomplish it).    But how do you handle clients who want this level of detail? It's fine to communicate the expertise that you have, but be careful about locking yourself in to specific team members doing work for that client. Sometimes the agency's needs change and as long as you continue to deliver a quality product, it shouldn't matter to your clients.   Chip and Gini also argue that it is important to have a primary point of contact for each client with your agency so that they aren't asking for lots of individual items from team members that could get lost in the cracks and not done -- or completed but not properly recorded as work done for that client.

Dec 1

26 min 18 sec

With all of the talk about the Great Resignation and the challenges many agencies are having hiring and retaining workers, is now the time to adopt a 4-day work week?   What are the pros and cons of this policy -- and is it even feasible for most agencies?   Chip and Gini tackle the idea that has become part of the conversation in many workplaces.

Nov 16

23 min 1 sec

Agency owners so often hear about the importance of not just being order-takers and finding ways to be more strategic by understanding a client's real challenges and opportunities.   And that's absolutely true.   But that doesn't mean that you should veer outside of your lane into areas where the client doesn't want you to go -- or worse where you don't have the expertise to do well.   Understanding where those boundaries are will give you the room you need to expand your engagements and the value that you provide, while not becoming something that you're not.

Nov 12

22 min 58 sec

During the past couple of years, we have all learned a lot more about all of our professional connections because of the challenging work conditions many have had to endure.   But should you be a completely open book with clients and employees? Or is there still such a thing as TMI?   How do you share enough to be human and to provide context for your work without crossing that line?   And is transparency really a good thing anyway? Could it cost you more than you think?   It's a challenging topic and one that Chip and Gini tackle with their usual blend of insight, anecdotes, and humor.

Nov 4

23 min 21 sec

Do you ever wonder how many clients an individual account executive should be able to handle? How about what percentage of time should be client billable for all levels of employees? Perhaps you've heard about metrics like revenue per FTE -- what are good numbers for your own agency business? Chip and Gini discuss these and other questions on this episode of the Agency Leadership Podcast.

Oct 28

24 min 58 sec

How do you handle the cancellation clause of your client contracts? What type of notice period do you require? What are the exit terms and how do you handle clients who leave on bad terms? These are questions that Chip and Gini address in this episode of the Agency Leadership Podcast.

Oct 21

25 min 7 sec

It is not uncommon for agency employees to want to do a bit of freelancing on the side. Some even have dreams of starting their own agency or other business. How do you protect your agency’s interest while not stifling your employee’s ambition? What should you do when an employee comes to you to share what they’re doing or considering? How about the times when you discover what they’re up to and they never disclosed? Chip and Gini cover these questions and more in this episode of the Agency Leadership Podcast.

Oct 12

19 min 24 sec

The same bottle of water costs the same to make but is priced differently if you get it at a convenience store, grocery chain, or four-star hotel. What can you learn about that when it comes to pricing and positioning your agency? Are your lower-priced clients that much easier to service than the high-ticket ones?

Oct 4

20 min 39 sec

Is it possible to lose your client's business because you have done too good of a job for them? Should you intentionally underperform in an attempt to keep the client longer? These questions may seem far-fetched, but they have actually been asked -- so Chip and Gini address them in this week's episode.

Sep 20

19 min 55 sec

We talk with a lot of small PR and marketing agency owners who are weary of their own businesses. They feel overworked, underpaid, and burned out. What is the cause of this feeling and what can you do about it? That's what Chip and Gini explore on this episode of the Agency Leadership Podcast.

Sep 13

23 min 56 sec

In this episode of the Agency Leadership Podcast, Chip and Gini discuss whether or not you should be using waitlists to manage demand for your agency's services.

Sep 3

22 min 30 sec

In this episode, Chip and Gini talk about insurance. Right up there with legal and accounting when it comes to favorite topics for agency owners. As painful as it may be to talk about, insurance is something that we all need to understand and consider. Balancing the risks with the costs isn't always easy, but Chip and Gini offer up some perspective for you to consider.

Aug 27

17 min 14 sec

In this episode of the Agency Leadership Podcast, Chip and Gini discuss the importance of using your calendar to set, manage, and achieve your priorities. The most scarce resource in any agency is the owner's time. How you spend it is one of the best indicators of your likely success.

Aug 14

21 min 16 sec

The Mad Men era of agencies is over. Or is it? On this episode, Chip and Gini explore the ongoing issues that women face when working at agencies -- from advancement to harassment (and worse).

Aug 5

31 min 8 sec

Have you ever been frustrated with your team's performance? If so, you're not alone. Many agency owners have had challenges with their employees not doing what they're supposed to do or not achieving the quality of work you expect. Chip and Gini discuss how to sort out what's going wrong -- and what to do about it.

Jul 29

23 min 46 sec

Interns have been a common sight at many agencies, especially over the summer months. For small agency owners, the idea of hiring interns can be especially appealing because it feels like an easy (and affordable) way to grow your workforce and get more done. Yet there are many challenges with brining interns on board. While it once was normal to have unpaid interns, that has fallen out of favor -- and may even run afoul of labor laws in your jurisdiction. It is also important to remember that interns should be learning and growing in their roles, not merely filling needed work hours for the agency and its clients. In this episode, Chip and Gini discuss their advice for creating and maintaining an internship program that benefits all involved.

Jul 25

24 min 28 sec

You always hear that everyone in your business should be making the best, highest use of their time. But one of the biggest offenders of this objective are the agency owners themselves. How often have we found ourselves doing low value administrative work that we could easily have someone else do? Perhaps we do it to "save money" or because it is just easier or because we don't trust someone else to do it as well as we do. The reality is that agency owners need to start with themselves in the drive to improve efficiency and profitability. Tracking the things that you do that aren't as valuable as the hourly rate that you command will help you identify the things that you should delegate. In this episode, Chip and Gini talk about how to identify these tasks, determine the best candidates to get off your plate, and the impact it can have on you and your business.

Jul 16

23 min 7 sec

Agencies need to be managed. Not just by their own leaders, but by their clients. Being managed by the client doesn't mean that you're simply an order-taker. Active management by the client tends to ensure better results and stronger relationships. In this episode, Chip and Gini discuss why it matters so much and what good management looks like.

Jul 9

26 min 47 sec

Small agencies can increase their capabilities and bandwidth by partnering with other small agencies and freelancers. But what are the tricks to doing this successfully? Owners often struggle with how to make these partnerships profitable without distorting their pricing models. In this episode, Chip and Gini discuss the benefits of collectives and collaborations, as well as some lessons they have learned over the years about how to make them work well.

Jul 2

20 min 12 sec

Agency leaders often seem fixated on trying to discover the exact budget that a prospective client has available to spend with them. There is a school of thought in the sales community that you need to get this number to "qualify" the lead and to make sure that you scope an appropriate solution. That's hogwash. You need to make sure that the prospect understands what you typically charge for services so that they don't waste their time (and yours) with pointless tire-kicking. You don't need to zero in on an exact figure. Chip and Gini explain in this week's episode that tailoring a solution to that (often arbitrary) budget number attacks the problem in precisely the wrong way.

Jun 24

22 min 13 sec

Clients frequently clamor for their agencies to do more. But how do you decide when it makes sense to expand your capabilities -- and when you should say no? If you do decide that there is value in offering a broader solution, how do you go about getting that integrated into your business? In this episode of the Agency Leadership Podcast, Chip and Gini discuss how they have made such decisions in the past, including what worked and what didn't.

Jun 14

21 min 40 sec

Successful agencies consistently find ways to evolve their offerings. This requires increasing skills and knowledge for you and your team. But how do you go about gaining the knowledge and experience necessary to make the necessary adaptations? In this episode, Chip and Gini explore ways that you can develop your capabilities to better serve your clients.

Jun 3

20 min 10 sec

In this episode, Chip and Gini discuss the benefits of using the floor-to-ceiling pricing methodology to reap greater profits for your agency business. The co-hosts discuss the practical benefits of first determining your floor -- the price below which you cannot go without having unacceptably low profit margins. Then they explore how you probe to find the ceiling for your services so that you avoid unnecessarily leaving money on the table.

May 24

23 min 42 sec

Have you ever wished you could take several months -- or even a year -- away from your own agency? Many of you have been reconsidering your priorities over the past year, so you may be wondering how you can explore other passions or simply recharge your batteries in a deeper way. It's not easy to take time off from any small business, but especially a small agency where others often think of the firm and the individual as one entity. Taking a proper sabbatical requires great planning, strong processes, and solid rules of the road. In this episode, Chip and Gini talk about some of the things that you should be considering if this is something you might want to do sooner or later. Many of the steps are the same things you should be doing to get your business operating efficiently anyway, but there are a few things unique to stepping away from your own business temporarily.

May 13

27 min 51 sec

What should you consider when you are thinking about changing the name or positioning of your agency? First, we look at what goes into making the decision to rebrand. Is it worth the time and hassle? Do you need to rebrand, reposition, or both? Then we consider what goes in to establishing an agency brand, whether that's the first-time brand, a secondary brand, or a re-launch of the agency.

May 6

23 min 25 sec

Most agencies have faced the need to move in-person events and meetings into the virtual world over the past year. But it has been challenging to do it well. In this episode, Gini talks about how she has taken her agency's on-site client strategy workshop onto Zoom. She and Chip talk about how you can't simply copy the IRL experience to video conferencing and instead need to find ways to take advantage of the circumstances to make changes.

Apr 26

31 min 28 sec

Agency employees consistently complain about being overworked. Many of us started out in the agency world with our managers expecting us to work 60-hour weeks. This culture of overwork doesn't come about because owners and managers are sadistic. It's because too often agencies fail to price their services correctly. If agencies price work fairly, then there is no need for team members to work excessive hours. If agencies set reasonable client expectations, all-nighters should be the exception, not the rule. In this episode, Chip and Gini discuss this challenge and why it is so important for agencies to improve their ability to estimate costs and set prices correctly to avoid burning out employees.

Apr 17

23 min 4 sec

In this episode of Chats with Chip, Samantha Deeks of PRgloo talks about finding and reaching out to influencers and journalists who can help your agency's clients. Samantha explains why she founded PRgloo and looks at the journey they have taken. She also takes a look into the future -- both of her product and the industry. PRgloo:

Apr 14

30 min 17 sec

Chip and Gini are experts at growing PR and marketing agencies. But you should take everything that they say with a grain of salt. No expert has all of the right answers all of the time. Not every piece of advice is a good one for you to take -- even if it may work for 99% of other people. When you're looking for ideas and perspective, experts can certainly help. But you need to evaluate everything through your own lens. How closely does that person's experience and outlook reflect your own? As a general rule, any time you hear some piece of advice that sounds too good to be true (4-hour work week, anyone?) ... it probably is. Even in bad advice you can still take away nuggets, but if you think that someone has the silver bullet to solve your challenge or maximize your opportunity, you're probably going to be disappointed. So continue listening to the Agency Leadership Podcast to get some wisdom from Chip and Gini. But be prepared to toss it out if it doesn't make sense for you and your business. And do the same with every piece of expert advice you get anywhere.

Apr 5

26 min 17 sec

It’s no secret that the pandemic has disrupted the experiential marketing space. In-person events evaporated almost overnight. Even today, large-scale events haven’t resumed and the future remains uncertain, albeit more hopeful than a year ago. So how did an experiential marketing agency with a long history of success handle the challenge? Dan Hirsch and Deb Lemon, co-CEOs of On Board Experiential (OBE), share their story in this episode. From what they have done so far to how they see the future, Dan and Deb have lots of perspective to offer other agency leaders. Chip also explores how they make the co-CEO role work — something they both feel isn’t all that special, but it is something that many agencies have tried and struggled with before.

Mar 30

27 min 33 sec

This episode is a simulcast of a recent Small Agency Talk Show segment featuring Chip Griffin and Gini Dietrich. The show airs at 12 PM ET every Friday on YouTube at SmallAgency.TV. Chip and Gini take a brief detour on the topic of skinny jeans before getting into the meat of the show. They talk about how an agency owner can transition themselves out of day-to-day client work, as well as who should be in charge of business development in a small agency.

Mar 23

34 min 1 sec

Many agency owners tell us that they can close business as long as they get in the room with the right prospects. They're confident in their abilities and the skills of their teams. But how do you get those right prospects in the room (or on the Zoom)? That's what Chip and Gini tackle in this episode.

Mar 11

29 min 20 sec

When your agency starts working with a new client, chances are they have some existing activities already underway. They have a way of doing things that you need to become part of -- or change to make it more to your liking. In this episode of the Agency Leadership Podcast, Chip and Gini talk about what happens when you find something that goes against your strategic and tactical judgement. They look at a real-world example of an agency who found a contractor using a content and social media strategy that seemed nonsensical on the surface. But what might the new agency learn from the existing practices that might help them work more effectively for the client?  

Feb 26

21 min 16 sec

Most PR and marketing agency owners have thought about the possibility of selling their business someday. But what should you be thinking about today if that's an outcome you might want to achieve? Chip and Gini talk about some of the things to focus on, as well as the potential pitfalls on the road to a sale.

Feb 21

30 min 14 sec

Chip and Gini know that you love to hear about business development. So we're fulfilling that wish with a look at what agencies can do for business development in the reality that is 2021. Despite continuing challenges, there's a lot of opportunity to be had. Lots of agencies are getting creative -- not just with their clients, but with how they are generating new leads and closing new accounts.

Feb 12

24 min 33 sec

We have all been there. Clients complain about something that your agency is doing. It might be the quality of the work. Or the timeliness of a deliverable. Or something else. When it is about something that we control ourselves, that's painful -- but easier to address. What do you do when it is one of your team members that is the target of the client's displeasure? Chip and Gini take a look at this very common challenge and offer some strategies on how to make sure that you keep the client happy while also being fair to your own team.

Feb 5

27 min 21 sec

The smart folks at RSW/US recently surveyed agency owners and marketers to understand their outlook for 2021. Chip and Gini dig into the data -- and they don't like a lot of what they saw. They believe there is a significant disconnect between the agencies and their clients. The pair look at some of the highlights from the report, but you can download your own copy from the RSW/US website: Chip and Gini will also be panelists along with Drew McLellan of the Agency Management Institute at the RSW/US Agency New Business Virtual Conference in February. More info here:

Jan 28

19 min 42 sec

Can you -- should you -- run a PR or marketing agency without leveraging the PESO Model in 2021? Gini obviously has a bias since she created the PESO Model, but it has since become the standard approach for integrated marketing. It brings together Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned media to help organizations achieve their communications goals. In this episode, Chip and Gini talk about why this integration is so important for winning business and achieving results -- but also how agencies can achieve the benefits of the PESO Model without having to build out a giant team that has expertise in all of these areas.

Jan 25

26 min 23 sec

Gini noticed that Agency Leadership Advisors rebranded as the Small Agency Growth Alliance (SAGA), so she asked Chip to explain himself in this episode. You'll hear Chip explain his thinking and how some of the decisions he made may be useful things for agency leaders to consider in the post-pandemic world.

Jan 15

23 min 39 sec

Chip and Gini get asked all the time about hiring project managers. When to do it, how to integrate them with the team and clients, and whether it needs to be a standalone role or one combined with other functions. The co-hosts take several questions from the community together to lay out their views on how to effectively use project managers and the pros/cons of different models for the role.

Dec 2020

25 min 20 sec

Many agencies provide e-books, guides, or even free consultations as a way to connect with potential prospects. These giveaways can be a good way to break the ice -- as long as you don't break the bank in the process. Chip and Gini review some real-life examples of things that agencies do and some questions that owners have had for them recently about what to give away and how to promote it. They also examine potential pitfalls along the way.

Dec 2020

22 min 35 sec

Chip and Gini talked about how things won't magically change once the calendar flips over to January 2021. Then Brad Farris jumped in with a great post making the same point, albeit more eloquently. So Chip and Gini decided to pick up the ball and run with it in this episode. 

Nov 2020

20 min 18 sec

Sometimes you may come across a client who wants more services than your agency provides. Or maybe it happens quite often. How do you know when it is a good idea to pitch for business in partnership with another agency? What should you be looking for in that collaboration? What are the red flags you need to look out for? That’s what Chip and Gini talk about in this episode of the Agency Leadership Podcast, leaning on their own experiences to help you avoid the pitfalls and reap the rewards.

Nov 2020

23 min 43 sec

Lots of us are working from home these days. Many agencies have transitioned to having their teams work full- or part-time remotely. This creates new challenges for agency leaders as they try to figure out how to support and get the most from their employees. Chip and Gini discuss some things that work — and some that don’t — when it comes to leading distributed teams. But the focus of this episode is on some of the important things that you might overlook, especially if you are new to having employees who don’t work in the office — including some who may now be thinking about moving somewhere else to be closer to family or simply take advantage of the fact that they no longer need to come into the office every day.

Nov 2020

24 min 22 sec

What do you do when an employee leaves your agency? In this episode, Chip and Gini talk about how to handle the transition with clients to minimize disruption. There are definitely some things you want to make sure to do -- as well as to avoid. Gini will even share an example from her past about how employees shouldn't act on their way out the door.

Nov 2020

21 min

You don't want clients who are too small or too big for the work your agency does. You want them just right. Clients who can just barely afford your services create one set of problems. Those who think your fee is a drop in the bucket will have their own issues. Chip and Gini discuss why you need to follow the Goldilocks Principle when signing up new clients -- and what happens when you don't.

Oct 2020

16 min 46 sec

Despite all of the gurus who tout the idea of “value pricing” to agency owners, it may not be the best approach for everyone. In fact, it is a concept that is often misunderstood and rarely implemented properly. Chip and Gini talk about what value pricing — and what it isn’t — as well as how and when it may be useful. They also explore some of the pitfalls, misconceptions, and downright bad advice that agencies get.

Oct 2020

26 min 50 sec

Chip is joined by Max Borges of the appropriately-named Max Borges Agency who talks about the evolution of his agency, including how he got started with no PR experience. When he got started, Max was like many agency owners: he did anything for money. Over time, he got smarter to build an agency that worked for him. Max discusses how he found focus for his agency and the difference it made in driving growth. He also shares the reason why ex-salespeople make great media relations professionals. Finally, Max offers practical advice on how agency leaders can improve their websites to attract the right clients — and scare off the bad fits.

Oct 2020

30 min 13 sec

We often get asked by agency owners and executives about how they can get their team members to improve their performance. They often frame it in terms of "being more accountable." The reality is that accountability is a two-way street. As a manager, you need to be accountable to your team members, too. Listen in to learn how.

Oct 2020

22 min 41 sec

A week doesn't go by without Chip and Gini being asked about which software to use for sales tracking, media monitoring, time tracking, accounting, and more. We get it. We like tinkering with tools, too. But how should you approach making these choices for your own agency business?

Sep 2020

25 min 22 sec