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100 Days In: Chief Operating Officer Lindsay Hong Reflects on the Acquisition of PEP Group

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By: Lindsay Hong, COO, Locaria

Originally Released on
Little Black Book

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Locaria’s Hong on bringing the previously siloed skills sets of creative production, adaptation and localisation together

It has been an exciting first three months since we closed on our deal to acquire PEP Group. During this time we have forged new relationships, taken our news out to market and started to see how our combination is delivering better solutions for brands with international ambition. As we begin to plan for 2023, now is a good moment to reflect on what we have learned so far.

In response to the challenge of global content fragmentation that brands have been facing, our vision was to bring together the previously siloed skills sets of creative production, adaptation and localisation, to create a unified global content scaling solution. Using international talent, workflows and systems, we aim to help brands iterate out great marketing campaigns for any channel, market and language, in an efficient and effective manner. So how are we bringing this vision to life?

A core consideration throughout the acquisition process was to ensure continuity and assurance for both teams. We knew that to do that, we needed a fantastic exec team that could unite behind a shared vision. Having explored each other’s questions face-to-face, we secured our joint commitment to delivering a smooth transition for our teams. This evolved into a well-prepared internal and external comms plan, built around that vision: a better way to serve clients as they expand globally. We backed this up with a logical organisational structure with leading roles for senior members of both organisations, empowered to take the vision forward. This has allowed us to effectively respond to staff queries and commence several workstreams, bringing together talent and leadership from both companies, with positive progress already being made. 

 

1. Communication, culture and values

There was already a good cultural fit between the two companies, with our two sets of values sharing a lot of similar vocabulary. We have now iterated out the values to be shared across the entire organisation, and more importantly, operationalised through day-to-day processes such as performance management, hiring, client support and sales. We look forward to launching these formally in the next month. Inevitably there are also divergences in culture values, and understanding. What has been great to see is a high level of transparency and shared responsibility in building a unified team. This has driven a common purpose and collaboration across all teams.

 

2. Go-to-market Strategy 

As the transaction was highly complementary in nature, adding creative adaptation & production to our existing services, the narrative was straightforward. This allowed us to quickly upskill sales resources in both teams to begin speaking to clients and partners as soon as the deal closed. In addition, having a full suite of marketing content localisation and production services has allowed us to support RFPs in partnership with Stagwell creative agencies in a more robust way, leading to wins for the wider network through our efficient post-production services. We have also already opened up SEO and transcreation opportunities with global FMCG brands.

In terms of footprint and client support, the transaction has allowed Locaria to extend its presence in the Americas, adding a team Canada available to support local clients in-market across not only production, but also language services.

 

3. Innovation

As we have been working together to evolve our proposition and go-to-market strategy, we have increasingly noticed similar challenges coming from clients across all areas of the business. Common themes surrounding the need for nuanced content strategies that can scale internationally but keep budgets in check have emerged. The role of AI, automation and tech in both brand and direct response content is something we find all our clients looking for advice on, as is the fine balance between performance and creativity. The evolution of creative production solutions is following a similar pattern to that of language tech in the past ten years. This means our combined experience is able to identify areas for innovation and increased insight, both in terms of our internal processes and client strategies. Our complementary skills are also informing the development of more solutions to support content performance.

 

4. Brand & Marketing 

We have found it important to be respectful of each other’s brands and to make clear decisions on how to align going forwards. Pre-transaction, we identified that due to our different histories, lead generation models and footprints, Locaria had greater brand awareness and more marketing collateral. However PEP, being focused around highly visual media, brought different channels and options for sharing our brand and proposition. As such, our strategy was to launch an updated visual identity for PEP at the time of the transaction, bringing the brand into the broader Locaria group aesthetic and tone of voice. This has been followed by a process to consolidate marketing efforts across social media under the Locaria brand. The social integration is setting the tone for an imminent new version of locaria.com, showcasing creative adaptation and production case studies and explaining all the services and expertise now available to clients as a result of the acquisition. We can also do all our own marketing production in-house now, which is very satisfying!

Reflecting back, there are several key integration principles which have served us well so far and will continue to inform how we grow together as one business:

​• Keep the vision central and repeat it again and again. Ensure all decisions speak to that singular vision

​• Look after people. Talent is at the centre of everything we offer clients, and also what makes Locaria a great place to work. Supporting our team through the journey to realising our vision will ensure success, and make it fun along the way!

​• Make incremental changes where possible to smooth integration. Make small changes quickly, learn and iterate to reduce unnecessary disruption and remain agile

​• Walk the talk- use each other’s services from day one. By using each other’s services internally, we get to know each other better and work out the kinks more quickly. Mutual trust will show through when sharing our services with clients

We have made a fantastic start together and are now entering a phase of increasingly detailed, operational work. As we move forward at pace, we will allow time where it is required to ensure our new organisation is fit for purpose and maintains the high quality standards that Locaria is known for. From the positive foundation of the last 100 days, we are confident that as one team, desiloing production and localisation, we will continue to deliver a bright future for us and our clients.

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