Good news for those of us working in boutique PR agencies! A new study by the Horn Group and Kelton Research says marketing execs prefer to work with smaller firms who operate like collaborative partners and push for innovation.
The study found that 86 percent of the MEs who responded prefer to work with smaller, more specialized firms than with large, all-in-one agencies. They prefer having an agency that specializes in several areas such as PR, social media and interactive design and can bring in partners to add additional services.
Even more encouraging is that 77 percent of MEs indicated that they want to work with agencies they would consider to be partners and about 70 percent already have partnership relationships with the agencies they use.
The study also found that about 70 percent of MEs are aware that their companies are behind the curve in social media and that they are looking to their PR agency to push them for digital innovation.
The digital age has leveled the playing field for small agencies in terms of removing the geography element from the competition for clients. Clients no longer require or expect their PR agency to be local and physically available, so small agencies can expand their reach beyond the city in which they are located and compete with large agencies that can afford to have an office in every major city worldwide.
The same is true for the media. Gone are the days of physical press tours and journalists who only had time to talk to the clients of major PR agencies with a “name” to get in the door. Thanks to email, Twitter and even LinkedIn, virtually any PR person with a good story can get the attention of the media. Webinars, phone and video conferencing and virtual press tours are tools of the digital age that help small firms create as big a footprint for their clients as large firms can.
Today’s PR client, according to the Horn/Kelton study, is more interested in results than in cost or an agency’s reputation. They want a more capable firm that can execute and one that can provide a consistent vision and stronger relationships—and they want that partner to challenge and lead them down the path of innovation.
Small agencies can be more agile and personal simply by virtue of their minimal structure. They can work with clients in a sustained partnership relationship that provides a more cohesive and consistent brand experience across services, from written content to media relationships to social media. Small agencies know their clients well enough to be able to challenge them in areas where they believe there will be a good return on investment for the client’s time and expense.
This fits in with the DJA way of working and partially explains why we’ve had success with our clients. We like to work as a part of their team and a part of their company’s culture. We execute and we innovate. We even take calls and emails on the weekend.