Monday, March 29, 2010

COMPLAINTS ABOUT PR AGENCIES

I was judging the Public Relations Society of America Silver Anvil entries last week. The Silver Anvil Award is the Oscar of our business. Sitting across from me were two judges who held leading communications positions in two Fortune 500 companies. During our break they were talking about the performance of agencies they have hired. “Lots of tactics,” one said, “little strategy — particularly from the larger agencies, where we expected more. We have found if you want to get serious strategic thinking, go to a boutique agency.”

Now, clearly, two opinions do not a random sample make (although I must admit, I heard similar sentiments recently from several pharma executives). And I know for a fact that many of the big agencies deliver quality counsel and execution to their clients, if for no other reason, because of the many Silver Anvil winners among this group. Nevertheless, the fact that a number of smart, experienced corporate leaders share the same view of the industry goliaths concerned me – because client opinion of the largest agencies can have a trickle down effect. Is it a result of the recession, layoffs, and an overall talent shortage? What can we do about it?

We can renew our focus on delivering valuable services from seasoned professionals at a fair price. My question is are we maximizing our senior professionals’ skillsets with clients, or are they too involved in non-client work?

I decided to check our own record. A recent survey of independent data culled from large, mid-size and small agencies conducted by the Council of Public Relations Firms, clearly showed that senior talent at Makovsky + Company spends more time with clients than the industry average. We know that it is value received that keeps clients.

Unexpectedly, the recession may be helping all firms in the industry. According to the 2010 edition of Spring Associates’ Official PR Salary & Bonus Report, despite significant job losses in 2009, hiring in 2010 has improved, leading to a more optimistic view of the future. The hiring trend is generally skewed toward PR professionals with more experience.

Technorati Tags: Public Relations Society of America, Silver Anvil, Council of Public Relations Firms,Spring Associates, Inc., communications, public relations, Makovsky

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