The story behind Argyle’s investment in Matchstick

How social media ignite relationships: The story behind Argyle’s investment in Matchstick
A ‘relationships-first’ vision of digital & social media

In the fall of 2006, just a few weeks after Facebook became available to the general public, I invited a friend to speak at our company’s annual retreat. I asked him to tell the Argyle team about his pioneering work in “word-of-mouth marketing” – and to help us read the tea leaves about how communicators should think differently in a world in which audiences were about to become more empowered than ever before.

Our guest speaker’s name was Patrick Thoburn. His company, Matchstick, went on to become one of Canada’s most respected social media marketing boutiques. Meanwhile, at Argyle, his presentation helped light a spark – as we launched our digital practice not long afterwards.

This week, we announced that Patrick and his co-founder, Matthew Stradiotto, and their talented team have officially joined the Argyle Group.

Why is Argyle investing in Matchstick, and how do we see the future of social media in public relations and public engagement? I shared some of our thinking with Strategy and The Message. In short, there are three big reasons:

First, we’re responding to what clients need today. Argyle’s digital team – which includes people in Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver – is incredibly busy due to growing client demand for integrated communication. This deal gives clients immediate bench strength from some of the most talented players in the business. Matchstick excels at social brand building, cross-platform brand storytelling, and performance marketing for some of the top consumer brands in Canada and the U.S.

Second, we’re anticipating where the market is going. While clients come to Argyle for many different services, they usually have bigger motivations: making better decisions, rooted in the support of their customers and stakeholders; earning trust and reputation; and building their brands. That is why Argyle has evolved to offer a continuum of services – from public engagement to communication to creative content marketing. Digital and social media run through all three.

Third, this reflects our ‘relationships-first’ vision of digital communication. As a firm with a heritage in public relations, we view digital and social media through a relationships lens. For brands, the “holy grail” is a 1:1 relationship with a customer (or stakeholder) that enables the brand to be present at every step in the decision-maker’s journey. In a world where people have more content than they can possibly consume, the key isn’t producing better content; it’s deploying useful, targeted content in the service of relationships. To quote an Argyle axiom: while content is king, relationships are royalty.

That’s not just true of a relationship between a brand and its public; it’s also true about relationships between people. 13 years ago, I was pretty lucky to have a friend with some smart ideas to share. Today, our national team is excited about embarking on a new journey with Matchstick – and igniting more great collaborations in the years to come.

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