CWC 15: Joe Thornley on Evolution of the PR Business

The newest episode of Chats with Chip featured a conversation with Joe Thornley, the CEO of Thornley Fallis Communications. Chip and Joe discussed the business side of communications, as well as how the changing landscape of digital transformation and workplace trends affects the communications industry.

After introductions and some background on how Joe established Thornley Fallis, Chip opened up the conversation to discuss the business side of communication. Specifically, Chip asked Joe how he approached P&L statements and how his approach is different than those of prior agencies with which he worked. According to Joe, having a third-party analyzing these statements fails to convey the stories behind the numbers.

In his analysis of P&L at his own business, he considers, “where can we get the best impact from the investments that we make and how will that get us to a point where the business will be healthier tomorrow than it was yesterday. That’s quite different from looking at how did we perform this month, simply as a snapshot, and demanding that there always be a particular margin.”

Chip then asked Joe about the kind of changes he’s seen during the two decades since his business’ origin. Joe cites digital transformation as a major influence on the changes he has experienced. He discussed his company’s creation of an online presence, including establishing social media accounts, podcasts, and a blog, in the early days of digital media.

Around 2011, however, these digital channels had become crowded with other businesses, which diminished the success and visibility these tactics had previously afforded businesses. “A lot of mid-sized agencies started to get themselves squeezed. We started to get ourselves squeezed because we had become a mid-sized independent agency,” said Joe. “That caused us to refocus again.”

Thornley Fallis refocused by expanding to create apps. Additionally, Thornley Fallis changed their approach to the traditional workplace. Joe explained that his company was redesigned to include a smaller team of core employees and a larger network of partners who work on an assignment basis. Chip and Joe agreed that having this broader community, rather than a robust internal network, is the future of the industry.

In their considerations of the industry’s future and how it will continue to change, Chip asked Joe how these changes will affect the incoming workforce of young professionals. Joe acknowledges that it’s unlikely for companies in this industry to retain young professionals and to build their career in a single environment.

Instead of focusing on retaining these people long-term, Joe advises to mentor and train young employees and to build a strong relationship with them. “That is what, as we’re assembling teams, we really need to do, which is build up that social capital with people who are going to be moving around and not view people as long term employees and definitely not judge the success of our company on the basis of how long people have stayed with us,” said Joe.

Chip and Joe wrapped up their conversation by discussing additional innovations Joe has introduced to enhance his workplace and its employees’ experience. Check out the recording and the full transcript to learn more about these innovations, as well as additional insight on the development of the business side of the communication industry.

This article originally appeared on Media Bullseye. You can listen or read the transcript there.

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