Though often merited, PR faces uphill battle to gain the recognition advertising receives

In a Q&A last week that ran in The Wall Street Journal, Pat Fallon, founder and chairman of advertising agency Fallon Worldwide, explained why his firm declined to re-pitch the BMW business.

In a Q&A last week that ran in The Wall Street Journal, Pat Fallon, founder and chairman of advertising agency Fallon Worldwide, explained why his firm declined to re-pitch the BMW business.

"I guess in the end," he was quoted as saying, "I didn't think a review was appropriate and I couldn't get my head around the business reason for the review...I'm not sure it's the best use of our resources to go through four months of competition."

Fallon is fortunate because, regardless of the reason for his decision not to pursue the business again, the agency's innovative work on behalf of the carmaker is out there for the entire world to see. BMWfilms, a widely acclaimed series of short, internet movies created by Fallon, are one example of the agency's creative prowess. Thus, Fallon can walk away with its reputation intact from an account that at least one press report characterized

as unprofitable.

The PR firm that declines to re-pitch an account does not always have such incontrovertible proof of its expertise to stand behind when one of its clients decides to review. Even now, when companies are more inclined to share their PR success stories and strategies, it can be difficult to identify the contribution of the agency within the overall program - especially if a key part of the agency's remit was to keep the company out of the press.

A PR firm that chooses not to re-pitch some-times bears the stigma - fairly or unfairly - of "what happened there?" from peers. Finding ways to define and measure the value of PR is important not only for the client, but for the agency.

We all must keep striving for greater diversity

Whenever our coverage fails to meet expectations, I urge readers to write letters about their concerns. Though one individual asked that his letter be kept private, I do want to address his criticism about lack of diversity in our Bay Area roundtable.

PRWeek has a responsibility to reflect the diversity of the PR community, agency and corporate, small firm and large, and a range of individuals. It is true that our public forums can be inconsistently representative. One year we will have a broad section of the community, the next we may not. Part of the issue is that we try to make sure to have a variety of people from year-to-year, so that one does not only hear from the usual suspects. In an industry that struggles to hire for diversity, we can run through great people very quickly.

It is an ongoing, never-ending responsibility of ours to grow our knowledge of the entire PR community every year. We accept that responsibility, and admit it when we have failed to meet it.

As we've mentioned before, the industry can also play an active role in helping us, as several individuals already do. The reality is we are heavily pitched by individuals to take part in these discussions as they are a popular and informative element. If those who take the time to pitch will also take the time to think about those in their organizations who might best represent their company, culture, and community, and share that information with us, I believe we will find diversity that much easier to achieve. The truth is that we can all do a better job.

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