If you’ve ever seen The Parent Trap, you’re probably aware that switching places can be complicated and often involve haircuts, ear piercings, and mastering a secret handshake. At Go Fish, our team has put this concept into practice as an exercise for our team members, and it’s had some great results (without having to go through all of the shenanigans that Lindsay Lohan did!)
There are two roles at our digital PR agency: research and promotion. The research team develops ideas, crunches numbers, and creates stories with the data. The promotion team pitches those stories to journalists. Both teams work in tandem and team members lean on each other for creative ideas, solutions that will produce the best results for clients, and the occasional troubleshooting session. But each side of the team comes at our end goal of building links from a very different point of view. Combining these viewpoints yields great results, but our team relies on mutual understanding to get there.
So, we decided to pull a switch.
What We Switched in Our Roles
For one campaign per year, two team members switch responsibilities for a campaign. That is, the research member would handle the promotion of a campaign and the promotion member would handle the research responsibilities. Both team members would collaborate closely to make sure nothing was missed, but each team member would ultimately perform the other’s tasks independently.
This allowed us to effectively see the other side of the project and get some experience with the tasks involved in making the project a success.
What The Promotion Team Learned by Doing Research
When the promotion team was placed in the role of having to find reliable sources of information to entice journalists and build out their headlines, they were introduced to a new set of resources that presented dozens of new campaign ideas for them. In addition, they learned some of the limitations of different data accumulation methods, including the types of surveys our team could run, the types of data we could reasonably expect to get our hands on, and the reasoning behind some rejected ideas that the research team could not execute.
What The Research Team Learned by Doing Promotion
When doing research, it is easy to get tunnel vision and look for what we can do rather than what journalists want to see. In participating in the promotion side of the project, the research team better understood the types of headlines and information journalists were looking for, what kind of stories they needed to effectively tell with the data, and how to engage journalists with their main insights. They also understood more deeply why the promotion team rejected certain ideas on the basis of journalist interest and how they could bring that understanding of journalists into their research process.
As a result of this exercise, every team member walked away with the following:
- A new perspective that would add insight to their role
- An understanding of pain points the other team faces and how to address them
- A more comprehensive understanding of the work every team member puts in
- New sources for creative ideas
We also experienced an even higher level of collaboration than usual during these projects. Overall, our team made the decision to incorporate this practice into our annual workloads as an exercise to challenge our limits and provide us with a new perspective that will creatively disrupt our routine.
So, if you’re looking for a way to challenge your team and break out of a rut, consider a role swap! It might not be as fun as Lindsay Lohan’s, but as a creative exercise, it can’t be beaten.
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