Lou Capozzi, CEO of MS&L and this year's chairman of the Council of Public Relations Firms, inherits volunteer leadership of an association that is striving for new relevance to its membership. Kathy Cripps, the Council's president, told PRWeek that they are reviewing both promotional efforts and eligibility requirements for members in order to make membership more than just a "nice to have." "It's about making membership more valuable to clients because it will have more teeth," Cripps said.Capozzi, equally interested in sharpening the Council's bite, says he took on the role because "I've got an axe to grind. This profession has made tremendous strides during my time in it. But I still think our greatest opportunities [are] ahead of us." In the past year, the Council has focused increasingly on such issues as procurement, financial management, and benchmarking, a direction that Capozzi supports. But he also favors a greater dimension of public advocacy of the industry - a concept upon which the Council was originally founded. Capozzi is not endorsing a generic rah-rah mentality. Instead, he seeks greater frankness about the profession's potential and successes, as well as its missteps. He should be supported in this effort. Those who work in PR often promote its virtues and ignore the profession's shortcomings. Moreover, some of those who are most often speaking for the industry are not its most accomplished practitioners. The Council, under Capozzi's leadership, should boldly assert its position as the arbiter of the profession's best - and worst - practices. PRWeek to study client-agency relationships As PRWeek has matured as a publication, so has our understanding of what constitutes a successful client-agency relationship. The time has come for us to amplify our role in assessing the prowess of agencies as they strive to meet the needs of those who purchase their services. Working with global market research agency Millward Brown, we have created an opportunity to produce an incisive and meaningful study into the key attributes of successful work by PR firms. (See news story, p. 1.) Our goal is not only to provide substantive information to corporations and others looking to engage PR agencies, but also to help firms identify areas for development, as well as marketing potential. This survey, which will be an annual fixture, will over time offer authoritative benchmarking for the vital elements of productive business relationships. For several years, we have discussed the possibility of undertaking a survey of this depth. We believe that there has never been a greater need than now for this kind of information. With procurement managers taking a larger role in agency selection, search consultants wielding varying degrees of power over decisions, and aggressive PR firms constantly calling to pitch their capabilities, clients face an increasingly complex set of influences. Nothing can replace a client's honest assessment of its direct experience with an agency. We have talked to many people in the industry about our plans for this research. The enthusiasm we have encountered on the "client" side has motivated us to commit to this incredibly important project.
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