AGENCY REPORT 1999: End results - How the scoring system works

The marking system for this year’s agency report does not correspond exactly to that used in the previous three surveys. As ever, the marks have been carefully designed to reflect the relative importance of the factors which determine an agency’s all round ability For this reason, the weighting given to different agency credentials has been re-balanced slightly to ensure that the report is reflecting growing standards in agency management.

The marking system for this year’s agency report does not

correspond exactly to that used in the previous three surveys. As ever,

the marks have been carefully designed to reflect the relative

importance of the factors which determine an agency’s all round ability

For this reason, the weighting given to different agency credentials has

been re-balanced slightly to ensure that the report is reflecting

growing standards in agency management.



PR Week publishes not only the final score but the elements that make up

that final star rating. The report should be treated as a guide and as a

commentary on the agencies’ relevant areas of strength, rather than an

absolute indicator of their ability.



The system rates each agency based on two pieces of research: factual

information provided by the agencies in response to a detailed

questionnaire, and a survey of their clients conducted by independent

research company Westcombe Business Research. These two elements are

combined to produce a final figure and a star rating.





Criterion for inclusion



Consultancies listed in the PR Week Top 150 league table with a 1998 fee

income of pounds 1 million or more were invited to participate in the

1999 Agency Report.





Agency Credentials



In this part of the survey, consultancies were able to score up to 40

points, as in previous years, on the basis of their own responses to a

questionnaire. In order to grade their responses to financial questions

fairly, and to compare like with like, the consultancies were divided

into three bands according to their size: pounds 1 million to pounds 2

million; pounds 2 million to pounds 4 million; and pounds 4 million

plus.



The questions were divided into the same five categories as previous

years, and were weighted according to importance within each

category.



- Business performance: Percentage income growth; pre-tax profit

margins; and average earnings per head and formal business planning.

This is still the most important section, but is now worth 12 points

instead of 15.



- Staff: Investment in training and benefits as well as qualifications,

staff turnover, and appraisal systems. Previously worth 9 points, this

category is now worth 10 points.



- Infrastructure: The agency’s investment in technology and systems.



The total points available here has gone down from 7 points to 5

points.



- Quality controls: Management systems such as BS 7750, ISO 90002,

Investors in People, and planning systems used, with rewards for

agencies which have invested in in-house evaluation programmes, as laid

out in the Research and Evaluation Toolkit. This is now worth 10 points,

rather than 7.



- Industry recognition: Membership of professional bodies, and industry

awards won in the past three years. This section carried 2 points, and

is now worth 3 points.





Client Assessment.



The methodology and points gained for this second part of the survey

were exactly the same as that used in previous years. Each agency was

asked to supply a list of contacts at between five and 20 client

companies.



Westcombe Business Research then interviewed five clients per agency

using a detailed questionnaire designed to elicit the client’s view of

the consultancy’s performance. Up to 60 points were available in this

section, broken down into five areas which were weighted according to

importance.



- Pitch promises: Reflects how well the agency has met its brief and

lived up to claims made at pitch stage, and how proactive it has been in

its ideas and services since winning the contract. 10 points.



- Client/agency relationship: Chemistry between staff; the level of

contact and responsiveness; perceived quality time spent on the account

by senior management; and consistency of handlers on the account. 10

points.



- Nuts and bolts: Keeping deadlines and promises; agency contacts;

written and oral skills; attention to detail; quality of research; and

how willing the agency is to offer tough advice. 10 points.



- Evaluation: How well the agency met set business objectives; the

quantity and quality of media coverage; the agency’s ability to

influence opinion formers; planning; and the agency’s own evaluation of

its work. 10 points.



- Client satisfaction: Overall performance rating; whether the agency

has improved, got worse or remained the same during the past year;

whether costs were perceived as fair; whether the service was viewed as

being good value for money; and how likely clients would be to

re-appoint them.



While clients remained anonymous in this survey, each was also invited

to add candid comments on what they liked best and least about the

agency.



20 points.





Star rating



Those agencies which scored 65 or more marks out of 100 were awarded a

two-star rating, and those which notched up between 65 and 74 marks were

given a three-star rating. Agencies with 75 to 79 marks were given four

stars, and consultancies with 80 or more scored the maximum five stars.



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