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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Large vs. Small PR Agency?

Large vs. Small PR Agency?
By C. Paul Luongo

Once upon a time, when large agencies were pitching accounts, small agencies stood still. Nowadays, however, the best way for a small agency to win an account is to come in right after a larger agency has made their presentation.

Why? Economics, 2004. Most clients now know that small agencies offer the same service at 25-30% less than a large agency plus personal service from the top!

Small agencies offer executive experience that will actually be used on the account, i.e. the people you see in the new business pitch are those you’ll have on your account. Big agencies send high-salaried executives to pitch the account and then relegate it to their junior staff once the contract is signed.

In fact, Virtual PR agencies are now offering lower cost service with high priced executives formerly at large agencies now employed by small PR firms.

After all, you can be in a farmhouse in Maine with a computer, modem, fax, instant messaging and e-mail and service clients very well without the high rents and overhead of big city locations. Up until 10 years ago if you weren’t in New York you weren’t important. That’s all changed.

My agency has always solicited clients throughout the United States and Canada since our founding in 1964 without a problem of location. In fact, Boston has always had a positive image for us in dealing with out-of-town clients. Invariably they had a Harvard or other educational connection not to mention the medical services offered at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

Clients want results however accomplished. Media coverage and communications counsel can be attained without excessive overhead and fancy offices.

“Larger agencies are still living in a Lexus dream, while clients are driving in a Ford Escort world” reports a small PR Agency counselor.

Executives at large agencies have usually not pitched a news story since being elevated to senior positions requiring time spent on budgets, new business and other administrative tasks. They don’t know what’s going on out there!

Small agencies can expend more of their monies offering senior level salaries and reduce many lower level service personnel as executives do more of the “hands on” work themselves. Retainers have also fallen. $30,000 a month fees are not now offered as easily as before and agencies are scrambling for the minimal $5,000 a month client.

Welcome to the New PR World!

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