Meet March, Boston

Cheryl MarchAs part of the ION blog series where we talk to our comms partners around the world, Cheryl Gale, president at March, gives a run down of the comms scene from the east coast US city of Boston.

Tell us about your agency
March is an integrated PR agency that partners with innovative tech companies to bring their stories to life. We take an insights-first approach to fuel smart PR programs that motivate key audiences, spark conversations and drive business value. We’ve been a proud member of the ION network for 15 years.

Why are you a part of ION? What are the advantages to being part of an international network?
We wanted to connect with like-minded agencies, and be able to scale globally. I’ve personally worked with many of the agencies in the network and enjoy the collaboration and like-minded approach to integrated comms. The fact that we belong to a global network and think globally is also great for employee recruitment and retention.

In what circumstances should clients working on international campaigns opt for an international network, as opposed to a wholly owned agency?
I recently asked a CMO and a VP of Global Corporate Comms, whose opinions I value highly, about their views on wholly owned vs. partner driven global networks (both had worked on either side). They preferred working with like-minded partner-driven global networks, finding that wholly owned networks often resort to charging higher premiums while simultaneously hoping to cut costs in order to justify maintaining offices in different cities. Working with independent agencies within a global network avoids this recipe for disappointment, assembling more stable, focused teams to disseminate the message in their respective regions. Clients can also ensure that individual agencies’ experience and geography match their goals, rather than expecting results based on a big agency’s reputation.

Can you tell us about some of the current trends in your region?
PR is shaping up to rely on influencers – whether they’re an analyst, publisher or media outlet, or someone who has built a strong social media following. Some agencies were slow to understand that an influencer is another channel for reaching an audience, and too many were stuck in the idea that media is the only relationship they own. That’s not to say that media relations is dead – we’re merging the idea of what an influencer is with the media. We are the voice of the brand story, and excel by identifying the right channel for communicating that story and building long-term relationships to easily access the audience.

Are there any challenges?
The challenge in working on a global campaign is there’s often a big piece of education that needs to be done because every country approaches PR differently. To start, some countries still rely on print and don’t value online in the way others do. Influencer relations varies region to region, particularly in the early adoption phase. In the US, the blurring lines between earned and paid is more prevalent, while either could be non-existent in other countries. Understanding these distinctions is critical when rolling out a global campaign, but can be difficult without support on the client side and guidance from partner agencies in other regions.  

What mistakes might a foreign agency, with limited understanding of your region, make?
Without an understanding of how the PR function has evolved in the US, a foreign agency recommending a programme and/or budget could set the wrong expectation and make it more difficult for success from the onset.

What sets good agencies apart in your region? 
Good agencies think holistically about communications and understand that it’s about storytelling. They enable clients the opportunity to tell their story through the channels that will most impact their business.

Can you share some internal agency news with us? 
We just produced our 60th episode of our podcast, and recently won an award for producing a client podcast. We’re also expanding our brand strategy offering. And after seven years in Boston’s North End, we are moving offices to the South End.

How can we find out more?

Visit our website, or send Cheryl Gale a note directly.

Cheryl Gale is a co-founder of March and has over 20 years’ experience helping technology and innovation brands of all sizes move the needle with campaigns that drive brand awareness and sales, all while creating a collaborative, innovative and inspirational environment at March.

In this series, we hear from ION agencies based in different international locations to find out about local opportunities and challenges in PR, as well as news and trends. Octopus Group’s ION network is our international network of top-class PR and comms consultancies. We work together to provide our clients with local specialism in whichever region they’re targeting.