Earlier this week, two leading independent PR agencies, including our US-based GlobalHealthPR partner, Spectrum, took the time to review some of the advantages and myths of working with multinational PR firms versus small to mid-size independent agencies.
According to Spectrum President, John J. Seng and Pollock Communications President, Louise Pollock, one of the most common myths is that larger agencies are viewed as more capable, in a sense, due to their sheer size (see their “5 myths of giant PR firms” below).
This month, as VIVA! Communications approaches its 10-year anniversary as an independent, boutique PR agency specialising in health and wellness, we believe now, more than ever, there is a need to shed light on such common misconceptions.
Busting these myths demonstrates how VIVA! has successfully managed to remain independent and earn an enviable reputation for developing and executing small-to-large-scale communication programs spanning across multiple media platforms including TV, print, radio, digital and social media, without the oversized team (or budget!).
Myth: You need a large PR firm to conduct large-scale national or global campaigns. Smaller, independent brands don’t have the bandwidth to execute large programs, and therefore, should only take on smaller projects.
Fact: Many independent firms quite often do some very heavy lifting. We are proud of our practices and place the highest emphasis on client relations. Independent agencies provide the same amount of support, if not more, to maximise our clients’ campaigns to their fullest potential. Plus, we work well with our clients’ other communications partners, and our own independent global networks such as GLOBALHealthPR. If small isn’t right-sized, then why do the larger firms create so-called conflict shops or pseudo-boutique firms?
Myth: Only large firms can bring leading expertise into play. By virtue of sheer size, the bigger agencies offer more established connections with the media and third parties.
Fact: Independent agencies understand the complex dynamics of good relationships. We build connections with the people who can impact our clients’ businesses based on what they think or say. People at larger agencies, often heavily overworked, may not have the time to build rich, in-depth connections. One of our stronger suits as independent firms: We find the time because we own greater, local control of our time. Plus, firms such as Spectrum and Pollock that specialise exclusively in health care and food unquestionably offer world class expertise not always found at mixed-interest firms.
Myth: With large companies, there’s safety in numbers. Working with bigger firms seems like the more secure choice.
Fact: Size doesn’t necessarily mean quality. Or stability. Or the continuity of your account team. While you may feel confident in selecting a big agency, you won’t necessarily get the attention from its leadership and enjoy the depth of talent you get by working with an independent agency. Our clients remain our first priority, and we consistently provide the creativity, capabilities and results our national and global scale clients need. We are solid, stable businesses that offer high staff retention rates.
Myth: Large firms are better-equipped to understand and execute in important, developing, new media sectors.
Fact: Many independent firms already do it all, because we have to. We ensure our employees are well rounded in every facet of public relations. We breed communicators with multiple specialties. While bigger agencies may create smaller, specialty sectors, independent PR agencies encourage and nurture diversity in the communications skills of our people. We develop a combination of the best tools, including social media, advocacy, media relations and everything in between. When we don’t own the best expertise internally, we don’t hesitate to partner with other, best-in-class independent resources. We are not beholden to entrenched, specialty departments or sister companies that are hungry for additional billings.
Myth: Large firms provide the best value or economies of scale. It stands to reason you should expect better value by working with a larger firm. Right?
Fact: Scale doesn’t really apply in professional services. Not in law, not really in accounting, and certainly not in PR. The public relations profession is neither a commodity nor a retail business such as Costco. (If you can get Costco quality and prices from our larger competitors, go for it.)
Read the full article, The Value of Independence: The 5 Myths of Giant PR Firms, by John J. Seng, Founder and CEO, Spectrum; and Louise Pollock, Founder and President, Pollock Communications