Bigger isn't necessarily better! Why small agencies go the extra mile...
There is not much that raises my hackles more than a someone bitching about a PR person, especially when they are making sweeping, and often completely unfounded, generalisations. This happened recently when a former journalist posted an advert for an event of hers which was pitched on the premise that small businesses should not invest in PR agencies as “they rip them off and so they would be better doing the media relations and story placement themselves”.
Having worked both agency-side and in-house, where I have myself been responsible for hiring (and firing) agencies, there is an element of truth in this. It’s correct that some companies are purely in it for the money and think nothing of charging extortionate rates or of wheeling out senior staffers in pitches who are never to be seen again, yet the client is still billed for that senior input. However, most of the time, agencies are not disingenuous and want to do a first-rate, open and honest job.
This is especially true for smaller agencies which generally choose not to – or can’t afford to – charge the fees that the bigger, more established and higher profile agencies charge. So, as a person who is running a small PR start up, www.fiveinaboat.com, and who is trying to build a strong and credible business, these are just some of the reasons why brands should invest in companies like mine.
1. We are hungry – and I’m not talking about food related-appetites (although in my case I permanently crave food). We want the business, we have so much more to prove and so we will go above and beyond to demonstrate that we are the best and that we will remain the best
2. We are more cost effective – nine times out of ten you will get very senior, more experienced people at a much cheaper rate than you would pay if you were hiring a bigger agency. And they will be visible and accountable, actually working on your business directly
3. We are more agile – without the constraints of a big network and of multiple management and approval layers, we can deliver more quickly and effectively and are far more able to change course if required
4. We generally have fewer clients – this mean that, as one of them, you get more focus. You are a priority instead of being just one of many, and you really matter
5. The team you see is the team you will get – we don’t have a massive pool of people from which to choose and don’t have the option of swapping people in and out. So we will pull together a team who we believe will suit your business needs and, if you rate them highly and the chemistry is right, they will become and will remain your team
Ultimately in business pretty much everything has a risk attached to it. As a small company your risk is that you spank loads of your limited cash flow for little to no return. That you hire an agency which doesn’t do what is right for your business. Or that you invest in someone who you never see again. All of these are of course possible. But both my experience and instinct tell me that if you go with a smaller player, they ultimately have a lot more to lose than a bigger agency so they will work around the clock, they will pull out all of the stops and they will do everything in their power to keep you, to grow with you and to share in and celebrate your success.