The Rationale for Change: Make a Difference

Having been in business for almost 30 years, I’ve seen incredible changes in our industry. As cliché as it sounds, the one constant has been change – with the resulting need for R&J to adjust, and sometimes even transform ourselves, to meet contemporary demands.

And so it is yet again, in 2015.

I am pleased to announce that R&J has acquired Fifth Room Creative, an award-winning boutique branding and web design firm previously located in Denville, N.J. The acquisition of Fifth Room Creative and their talented and enthusiastic staff will enhance R&J’s established digital marketing practice, while adding a greater scope of creative design services to support the agency’s integrated strategic focus. With this acquisition we have rebranded the agency as R&J Strategic Communications.

But why? It goes to the heart of our agency’s brand DNA: Make a Difference.

In looking at today’s marketing communications landscape, it became abundantly – almost painfully – apparent that the old “silo” model of delivering service – an ad agency, a PR agency, a digital agency, etc. – is no longer effective. In fact, the old-school model is often counter-productive to good, effective, authentic and engaging communication. Adhering to this model had become an impediment to us truly making a difference for our clients.

You see, it’s all about the “public” in “public relations.” As the number of media and communication channels explode, while at the same time, consumers’ trust in corporations and institutions continues to erode, good PR practitioners have found newer, more credible and more resonant ways of connecting clients to their publics, and in so doing, creating and nurturing an authentic relationship.

Authentic, transparent and two-way engagement is almost impossible to achieve through only one means of communication, such as traditional marketing and advertising. The goal of communication in 2015 and beyond has to be to engage with your customers and stakeholders in an authentic, transparent and meaningful way, on every level and via every channel. And all communication must be linked and synergistic – or it runs the risk of looking disjointed, or worse, inauthentic.

The present and future of public relations involves engaging with an increasing range of influencers and stakeholders, with the aim of listening as much as talking, and helping as much as selling. Only then can we make a difference.

The essence of our brand has always been to provide exceptional service to our clients and to boost their brand equity. With the recent expansion of our digital department and the addition of Fifth Room Creative, we have greatly enhanced our content creation and delivery capabilities, allowing us to better communicate clear, concise and impactful messages for our clients, regardless of what media platform we’re using – in short, to better make a difference in their business.

Moreover, these changes are helping us to fulfill the second pillar of our three-pronged “Make a Difference” brand platform: we are making a difference in the lives of our people, both personally and professionally. By opening new avenues for growth and expanding opportunity, our employees are benefiting professionally, and they (so they tell me) feel a greater sense of personal empowerment.

Which brings me to the third pillar: we want to make a difference in our world and our community. To that end, we are increasing our focus on work and projects that have a demonstrable social benefit. We have re-committed to several “pro-bono” accounts, and we are offering our people the freedom and opportunity to take part in community-focused activities that resonate with them.

This is not the first time that we have reengineered R&J to meet modern demands, and to enable our people to make a difference. And I dare say, it likely won’t be the last. Keeping up with change is an ongoing process.

Incremental change is both good and necessary. But sometimes it isn’t enough. Sometimes you need to make larger, more fundamental changes in order to position the organization to best serve the needs of both its clients and its employees. This is one of those times.

Welcome to R&J Strategic Communications – the “new R&J.” We welcome your thoughts, your input and your participation as we move forward in business and in the world to Make a Difference.


About John Lonsdorf

John is a recognized leader in the public relations and marketing communications fields and a 2019 inductee into the New Jersey Advertising Hall of Fame. He founded R&J in 1986 and has led the firm through several strategic re-brandings while building the agency into one of the region’s leading strategic communications consultancies. John has authored numerous articles on brand building and the role of public relations and the importance of integrated marketing, and has been a speaker and presenter at national conferences and symposia, in addition to sitting on several industry and not-for-profit boards. John impacts each account at R&J through his laser focus on strategic direction and his drive to provide clients with the maximum returns on their marketing communications investment.

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