Daring to heed your own advice

Last Updated on Friday, 24 June, 2022 at 11:36 am by Andre Camilleri

David Brockdorff, managing director of BPC and communications consultant

It is sometimes said that the answers we so assiduously seek may actually lie within. That our inner voice, if we discern it clearly and allow it fair hearing, unfailingly tells us what we need to hear, rather than what we like to hear.

At some lofty theoretical level, this may well beg the question of who we really are, and lead to ambiguity; if you are giving yourself advice, who are you really?

At a practical level though, most of us embrace our critical self-awareness as an integral and precious component of ourselves. As a result of this internal dialogue, we often know exactly what it is we should be doing, but perhaps are not always brave enough to do it, especially if it entails substantial change. More fool us.

In a world of ever-accelerating change and evolving realities, shying away from evolution is the surest downward slope to irrelevance, or worse.

As a former competitor, now collaborator, keeps reminding me, it’s illogical, almost irrational, to keep doing the same things again and again whilst expecting a different result. Our universe just does not work that way. Meaningful and positive change can only result from bold decisions and facing up to paradigm shifts. This may hold true at the national macro level and in the business world, as much as it does for each one of us in our own lives.  

For many years I had the privilege of leading the team at BPC; as a leading Malta-based marketing communications agency, we were involved in numerous campaigns, strategy and communications assignments for Maltese and international brands across a number of sectors. We also worked on sensitive public affairs projects, supporting clients as they grappled with complex public relations scenarios.

As we worked closely with clients, we advised them to focus resolutely on the long-term and be strategic; posing ‘where do we really want to go next?’ and ‘will this take us there?’ type of questions. Quoting the much-used maxim ‘having lost sight of our objectives we re-doubled our efforts’, we barely flinched as we asked clients whether this could possibly apply to their own organisations. All in a day’s work, with no particular feat of courage from our side.   

In reality though, even as we worked with others to think through their strategies and to put their message across clearly, thereby turning change into opportunity, our own economic eco system was also changing irrevocably.

Unprecedented technological change, tectonic shifts in lifestyles and media consumption patterns, combined with a crowded and very restricted market experiencing steep cost pressures for precious human resources, challenged a full-service agency infrastructure geared to meet the requirements of the past – even if it met them very well.      

It is not to say that current market conditions do not offer exciting opportunities for growth for other operators in the sector. A number of communications agencies are now able to offer good standards of client service in a way that is both sustainable and viable. Certainly, some agencies are well poised to continue to move ahead, and we certainly wish them well.

In our own case, the relatively slow pandemic years provided ample opportunity for frank reflection and debate as we planned for what should come next. Taking a strong dose of the medicine we so readily prescribed to others, we made a deliberate decision not to re-double our efforts. Instead, we re-examined our own objectives, listening afresh to the inner voice that had actually been advocating the need for change for some time. Sure enough, we heard what we needed to hear – except this time, we decided to listen.

Proud we are of our heritage, and of BPC’s loyal and resourceful team, we undertook a pragmatic assessment of evolving realities and opportunities, following which we decided to divest of most of our traditional agency infrastructure.

During the course of our re-structuring, we were introduced to a third-party entity prepared to take on what they deem to be our most valuable asset – our staff members. This is a Maltese owned business group with a broad international outlook, driven by a strong entrepreneurial mind-set, already successfully diversifying into different geographies and servicing a number of high value sectors with growth potential. The opportunity for our staff to join their team was evident, and we had no hesitation facilitating the process. A somewhat out-of-the-box solution perhaps, but a valid one, nonetheless.    

Our own approach will be different going forward, with a focus on consultancy, supporting and collaborating with other entities where we can continue to add value in meaningful, if different, ways.

A big change, certainly, but was it really that brave? As we pivot our efforts and re-invent ourselves, it becomes increasingly evident that not to have changed at all would actually have been far, far, braver.

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In 1994, the Malta Business Weekly became the first newspaper fully dedicated to business. Today this newspaper is a leader in business and financial news. Together with the launch of the MBW newspaper, the company started organising various business breakfasts to discuss various current issues that were targeting the business community in Malta.