The Joy of Dress Rehearsals - by Emma

Do this one thing to make your debriefs more directional!

(go on, steal it…)


Most agencies spend ages crafting these mega-decks but the greatest value happens at the dress rehearsal, not the “big final performance”. Here’s some tips on how to get the best out of work-in-progress thinking….


Sharpening your listening skills

Any agency worth their salt will always advocate clients + key partners attending fieldwork. Something we’ve been increasingly using – with a range of clients from healthcare to publishing to premium spirits – is a “listening guide” to help drive the right outputs. Our clients tell us it helps distil information & facts into nuggets of real insight, and encourages them to listen with a more open-minded perspective. It stops us all going into research ‘listening out’ to have our hypotheses proven. Personally speaking, I find this most useful in categories we know well and which feel instinctive. And at its best, it can give you that feeling as if you were a child hearing something for the first time. And that’s where the real magic happens in the insight world!


Business-issue-led analysis merge

We are also a fan of doing a client analysis merge. We’ve always done local sessions out in-market on global projects. Increasingly we are also doing a fast-turnaround merge with clients post-fieldwork. This isn’t the classic research model (lots of other agencies like to “do their analysis” before even getting in front of a client), but we find it really helps to share key messages & takeouts to ultimately shape a debrief with more resonance and relevance. After all, a client understands best what the real business issues are, and the key decisions that will be taken as a result of the research.


There is no ‘I’ in ‘team’

Many agencies still need to let go of the idea that they should be centre stage. Business priority first, client owner second… any residual glory for the agency is very much in third place! Although we turn our hands to lots of different working styles, we are strong believers in the importance of collaboration throughout. Collaboration is a two-way street starting from kick off and finishing not with final debrief but continuing as clients implement our work and turn to us for a friendly ear or a consumer-informed point of view. For us at Syren, it is about involvement throughout the business cycle, not just on specific projects.


Ultimately this comes down to client-agency partnerships working as a two-way street, and all of us having the confidence to get the best out of each other by working closely together throughout the process. Final debriefs no longer need to be a grand “unveiling” – but should be a reinforcement of all that has gone before so that clients walk away with a focused document that acts as a business plan for what to do next.