Not sure how many people noticed, but local integrated marketing agency, Fast Horse, unveiled a new media brand in mid-February called Modern Midwest.
You heard me: An integrated marketing agency (previously a PR agency) launched a MEDIA brand.
Surprised? I wasn’t. Fast Horse has always been a little ahead of the curve and bent on a “what’s next” mentality. A number of years ago, founder Jorg Pierach wrote a fairly memorable open letter saying his firm was changing from a PR firm to a brand/integrated marketing agency.
Then, a couple years ago, they were among the first to use social to source younger candidates–their “intern for a day” program remains one of my favorites locally.
Fast Horse also is one of the few agencies that truly embraces the workshifting philosophy locally. They call it “hot desking”, but the idea is simple. Get your work done–where you want, when you want. As long as you get it done. Still confounded as to why more agencies don’t take this approach with the bevy of technology at our disposal now.
And now, they’re unveiling a media brand. Again, ahead of the curve.
I’m also not surprised, because I see a number of benefits for Fast Horse from this little experiment:
A great test lab
Want to stay on top of trends and best practices as it relates to new media and content marketing? What better way than to OWN and MANAGE a media brand? Imagine what the Fast Horse team will learn by managing this brand. Given, the existing FH team probably isn’t on point to manage all the editorial and what not–but I’m guessing they’ll be involved in a few discussions about strategy and the future of the brand from time to time. What better way to test strategies and tactics than through a brand you are leading and driving?
New business funnel
You don’t think over the course of time Fast Horse won’t pick up a client or two through this work? By owning this media brand, they’ll be talking to a number of advertisers (potential clients), advisors (potential clients) and thought leaders (referral sources or potential clients). In sum, they’ll be talking with A LOT of very connected people. Very smart.
Great way to get cozy with influencers
In the post announcing the new brand, Fast Horse president Jorg Pierach says: “We plan to assemble an advisory group of leading practitioners and tastemakers from a variety of disciplines.” What could be smarter? Here’s a chance for Fast Horse to get close to the “who’s who” in the design, food and trend space in Minneapolis, Detroit, Chicago and St. Louis. People and brands pay thousands of dollars for access to these folks–FH just flipped that on its head by CREATING a brand that these influencers will (hopefully, for FH) want to be a part of.
A proof point for clients around “native advertising” and content marketing
What better way to prove to clients the value of relevance of emerging concepts like “content marketing” and “native advertising” than to show them first-hand within their own media outlet? In the past, Fast Horse probably had to do what the rest of us do–point to examples and best practices from others. Now, they’ll be able to point to their very own work through Modern Midwest.
So, what do you think? Is this idea of PR/brand agencies starting their own media outlets a trend or a mirage? Do you see more of an upside for Fast Horse here (as I’m suggesting)? Or, is this kind of move fraught with some risk for the agency?