Our next founders being profiled in our series of partners in the Brands2Life Global Network are Matthias Adel and Natalie Link of Adel & Link in Germany.
What led you to set up your own agency?
Having worked together in an international network agency, it was our desire to create a slightly different agency that was defined by our values which led us to set up our own business. And, of course, our passion for communication! It was our aim to set up an agency where people feel valued, are driven by their enthusiasm for our clients and are free to develop both themselves as well as the agency. And, what we actually missed when working in a network agency, was the networking part – which is why we love being part of the Brands2Life Global Network, because there is a true exchange of ideas, experiences and insights as well as business.
What inspires you each day?
We’re inspired by identifying the trends that shape our society and have an impact on how people live, eat, think & work. We’re inspired by how technology changes so many aspects of our lives. We’re inspired by how many of our clients are driven by or are changing their business models to create a better, cleaner, more sustainable future and planet. And we’re driven by our team – a great bunch of people who are fun to work with and are hungry for our clients’ stories.
What are the common misconceptions around doing comms in your market?
In the international context, the most common misconception is that PR works similarly in all countries – which is not the case and the reason it is so important to work with great agency partners in each of the markets a company is serious about. German media, for example, is very fact-based – they love facts & figures and hate marketing talk. Another misconception is that PR is all about relationships. Of course we have established relationships with a lot of journalists – but, in Germany, it’s very unusual to e.g. meet them for a coffee and a chat. Instead, it’s all about the story – which is why our focus is on identifying and developing great storylines for our clients.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in PR since you founded your company?
The biggest change has definitely been the rise of digital media as well as the decline in print publications which has led to a reduction of editorial teams in a lot of the publishing houses. This has meant that it is more difficult to get journalists to attend physical events – as they are under huge time pressure. On the other hand, it opens opportunities for e.g. the placement of bylined articles. Another change is the rise of owned media channels – which are currently experiencing a huge surge in professionalism with more video and audio (podcast) content.
What would you say is your biggest learning from adapting to working during a global pandemic?
Our biggest learning has been that working fully remotely works surprisingly well as we have a fantastic team whom we trust entirely. But it has also shown us that it is hard work and takes a lot of initiative from every single team member to stay connected, motivated and energised. So, we’re looking forward to developing a new work model for the agency with the team which will mean a mix of home office and agency days to connect, meet, have fun as a team and inspire each other.
Which campaign are you most proud of having been involved in / what is the biggest impact you have had on a client / a campaign has delivered for a client?
There are two campaigns that spring to mind: The first one was working with Visa over the last 5 years on introducing mobile payments into cash-loving Germany. We established the Mobile Payment Monitor – a representative survey conducted by forsa – which we are running for the third consecutive year – and are seeing in this year’s results that the Covid19 pandemic has really caused a shift in people’s minds with regards to the advantages of digital contactless payments. Another exciting campaign was with our client LivePerson, an AI-powered conversational cloud provider, on the topic of sexism in AI – an important societal debate launched by CEO Rob LoCascio.
After 10 years in the industry, what is your #1 priority right now?
Our priority is continuing on our path of sustainable but steady growth – as we have grown significantly over the last two years, we recently established five units: Technology & Innovation, Brand & Digital, Corporate & Finance, Storytelling & Employer Comms, and our design unit HIVE Studios. We want to expand all five units and extend our services. And of course, delivering amazing results for our clients is always our top priority.
Where is your company headed over the next 5/10/15 years?
Our goal is to a be a fully digital communications boutique specialised in creative storytelling and content marketing delivering creative solutions across earned, owned and social channels – working in close partnership with our clients to make a difference to their communications and business. An increasing number of our clients are either green businesses or have a strong sustainability focus – this is something that we identify with strongly and definitely see as one of our core areas of focus in the next few years. And, of course, we are always on the lookout for new trends – and open to trying out new things.
Moreover, where is the entire PR industry headed?
We believe there are three interesting developments the PR industry and anyone working in it needs to deal with: The first is the ongoing move from traditional PR to the production of informative, educational and entertaining digital and audio-visual stories and content that work across earned, owned and social channels. The second challenge facing the industry is the continued fight for trust and reputation gained by transparency and responsible communications in times of fake news. And, last but not least, we see the increasing importance of CEO communication and corporate influencers in the context of employee experience as well as the increasing positioning of experts within an organisation rather than just the management.
What are the three biggest things you’ve learned since founding your agency?
The first would be to trust and focus on building partnerships and relationships with clients, our network and our team. Secondly, we are convinced that being a good employer is key to our success – because we want people to feel they are part of our agency. And last, but not least, you can evolve and become better every day, if you’re willing to learn, are open to new ideas and happy to try out new things.
What do you enjoy most about being part of Brands2Life Global?
We mainly work for international clients and it is a huge benefit to us if we can help our clients grow and position themselves also internationally. We also hugely enjoy the exchange within the Brands2Life Global Network – not only of business but of ideas, experiences, challenges we all face in some shape or form, such as during the pandemic. We love the fact that it is not only an exchange at management level but that there are also training sessions organised for younger team members in different countries. And that if someone has a question about how things might work in other countries, everyone is always willing to help and offer insights and advice.
Name one profile that you follow on social media that really inspires you in your everyday work
Difficult to pick just one – but if we must, it would be Tijen Onaran, CEO & Founder of Global Digital Women with her mix of topics such as diversity, equality, inclusion but also entrepreneurship and leadership.
Adel & Link has been part of the Brands2Life Global Network for many years and shares clients including Formlabs, Sitecore, Aveva, PGMBM, Glassdoor, Planet, Rackspace, WiFi Alliance, Deacom, Benchling, and Tree-Nation with our partners.