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The trick isn’t just listening to what the client is saying, it’s hearing what they’re not telling you.

I’m contemplating this piece of advice from Siobhan Burke who is Head of Operations at Stanley St, and at the same time wondering what she’s not telling me.

She’s way ahead of me though and I suspect you have to get up at half past silly o’clock to try and sneak anything by her.

“Ask around” she says, encouraging me to go and talk to her 40 strong team.

They help Siobhan run the content set up at Stanley St that includes four full edit suites, an audio suite and film studio. It’s a proper sound studio too. Then there’s seven producers on staff, two videographers and four photographers in the team.

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Siobhan seems genuinely non-plussed as I comment on the fact that this is seriously impressive.

It’s this thinking though, I conclude that makes Stanley St a very different beast indeed and arguably the most integrated communications company in New Zealand.

“We certainly work differently” she adds as we’re interrupted by the aptly named Sage, a producer at Stanley St.

“We’re hired because of our skill set, not just to fit a role” says Sage by way of explanation. Sage was a chartered accountant in a previous world - a totally appropriate skill set for a man at ease juggling 4 shoots at once. “From what I can tell most agencies operate in a very linear way especially if they have to go outside to get anything done. Here, it’s all about collaboration. Creatives, suits, media, production work closer and earlier together,” he adds.

It seems a pity to interrupt as I suspect Sage is nearly at full throttle but I’m keen to know about the rather intricate food shoot happening in another studio.

Siobhan on the other hand is keen to see what I’m writing.

“I don’t want to give you the idea that we need lots of people to get the job done, it’s a small tight hand picked team. There’s lots of them because we’re busy.” Says Siobhan.


Down the hall there’s another team prepping a Briscoes campaign.

Well of course they are, Briscoes has been with the agency in its various forms for nearly 30 years. Most of the people working on the account today weren’t even born when that partnership began.

“Clients love getting hands on, and in here they can get right in amongst it. We encourage it. No one’s precious about anything. We learn and develop stuff together.” adds Siobhan. Sage, who has just finished a call with a well-known film director the agency is using on a new campaign, sums it up beautifully.

“It’s about clarity. There’s less chance of things being misinterpreted when you all work this closely.”

Is this integration client driven I wonder.

“In a way. It’s driven by common sense really,” says Siobhan, demonstrating quite clearly that she knows how to hear what’s not being said.

Very well indeed.

Siobhan is one of the 150 new owners of Stanley St.
Stanley St. Open, for business.

Get in touch with Siobhan

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