[This post was inspired by this quote from S. Shyam Sundar, a director of the Media Effects Research Lab at Pennsylvania State University. “Physical proximity plays a big role in terms of building relationships.” ]
Here at GS&P, we believe in the integration of everyone around ideas. This particularly applies to my discipline of media. Ten years ago, media revolved around 5 media - TV, Print, Outdoor, Radio and Other (such as direct mail, or stunts). Your media decision was basically a modeling exercise, how much investment into each one of the standard and finite choices was the correct one? Hence, media was only ever needed during the last 5 mins of a presentation. (Yes, this is overly simplified, but honestly, not by much).
Today, media choices are almost infinite. Certainly, no one has enough money to solely buy awareness and engagement. Clients need brilliant analysis and consideration of how their brand communication ideas can live across touch-points, how people will discover it, engage it and share it. Most of the time, thanks to social media, you cannot even assume that a consumers first interaction with your brand idea will be via a kick-off TV spot or print ad. More likely they will stumble across it via a friends reactive tweet or status up-date; marketing is no longer linear.
This is where proximity matters. For Creatives, parsing through hundreds of rough ideas, having access to smart Communication Strategy thinkers, (what we call the evolution of Media Planners at GS&P), is a massive advantage. Communication Strategists at GS&P, (and other integrated agencies I assume), will work with teams directly, in their offices, in the corridors and elevators of our building, to explore together the potential of ideas. How can we orchestrate that idea so that it takes on a life of its own inspiring action far beyond the borders of paid media.
Physically, I can walk into Jeff's office at any moment, or he into mine, and we can work through stuff. Right then, right there, not in an official meeting, or conference call spanning time-zones. This proximity and iteration actually speeds things up. We get through and to good ideas faster. It saves clients money.
As an agency we have tried all sorts of methods for breaking down proximity, both internally and with partners. When it all boils down through, it is impossible to escape our nature as social creatures. We all work better when we are in the same room.