Midsized agencies – way to go!!15th February 2012
A couple of weeks ago London’s Evening Standard ran an article saying that tougher times were ahead for PR firms ‘stuck in the middle’. In essence, the newspaper was saying that the only way ahead for PR consultancies was either to be a global conglomerate or a niche player – scale versus supposed agility, and a more strategic approach.
Now Flagship is neither a super sized nor a slim-line consultancy, but I would pride us on being able to offer the services of a larger business and the market knowledge and focus of a niche consultancy. I really think the article got it wrong when it just looked at size – what it missed was considering the key issue for success and survival today, which is quality – of service, results and relationship. Our clients partner with us because we make sure we understand their issues and market needs; we deliver well-thought through and creative campaigns that deliver the right results; and because we are committed, we care and we like to enjoy a good working relationship with them. One of our clients recently captured that relationship by saying that “we were always on” and I take great pride in that description.
Not that we can’t do niche or global; as a corporate and brand consultancy we work across most areas, but we have strengths in certain sectors. And as for geographic reach, that is one reason why we entered into a partnership with New-York based Peppercom in order to extend our global connections and to build our capabilities in digital, creative and marketing services. Knowing that Peppercom describes itself as the very “mid-sized agency” that the Evening Standard was condemning, I asked co-founder Steve Cody for his views on the article. This is what he had to say:
- First, this is an old story. I wish I had a dollar for every article I’ve read in the past 20 years suggesting the PR world would consist of either the big, global brands or boutiques. It hasn’t happened, and it won’t.
- Second, the article seems focused on consumer PR firms who are perceived as little more than commodities by clients. There are definitely firms that haven’t changed with the times and continue to offer little more than basic media relations. I believe these firms will disappear entirely.
- Third, I challenge the writer’s notion that PR is seen as secondary to advertising. That’s no longer the case here. The best PR firms have demonstrated an understanding of how to engage in conversations with a client’s target audiences in transparent, genuine ways. Advertising’s old top down, inside-out “talking at the consumer” mindset is withering on the vine.
- Finally, I believe the opportunities have never been greater for midsized firms. We’re not encumbered by the rules and bureaucracy of the big holding companies. Nor are we limited by the lack of breadth and depth a start-up has to address. Midsized firms that are continually innovating and bringing a suite of solution sets to meet a client’s ever-changing needs will continue to prosper. There’s no doubt in my mind that we continue to be the ideal solution for many, if not most, client organizations. You won’t find a better cost/benefit ration in the PR industry.