Platform: Partnerships are the future of cost-effective PR - PR agency partnerships will dominate the global market as they offer clients solutions with cost effectiveness, says James Motley

Only one thing really counts in PR, and that’s performance. Whether it’s raising awareness, generating sales leads or managing a crisis, global partnerships of PR agencies are often best suited for delivering results.

Only one thing really counts in PR, and that’s performance. Whether

it’s raising awareness, generating sales leads or managing a crisis,

global partnerships of PR agencies are often best suited for delivering

results.



Eventually, every agency, no matter what its size or specialisation,

will need to be a partner in some form of worldwide network.



The reason for this is simple: partnerships work. They work for the

client and they work for the agency. They deliver results with cost

effectiveness.



They can also perform better than single brand networks or the pic’n’mix

strategy discussed by Mark Jackson of Bite Communications (Platform, 12

February).



They perform better for a variety of reasons. For a client utilising

more than one agency, PR must meet three key criteria: location,

performance and cost. The single-brand network can often be too

conservative, with too many off-shore managers or distant bosses.

Partnerships, however, are are comprised of local people in local

agencies across the globe, resulting in better knowledge of the trends

and culture of each market.



The right partnership can be tailored to reflect the size of the

client.



Whether it’s a global brand company employing more than 100 agencies in

each geographical market, or a small IT operation requiring the services

of just two or three agencies across Europe, partnerships can ensure the

cost effectiveness of activities employed.



Setting up a pic’n’mix network is time-consuming and costly, and once

employed, ad hoc agencies will always lack the synergy levels found in

partnerships. Equally, some argue that single branded networks can often

suffer from the ’not invented here’ syndrome, or are too busy chasing

the bigger budgets.



The ’getting to know you’ process can be bypassed by employing a

partnership: internal communication processes ensure that agencies are

constantly updated on the client activities of other partners. Meetings,

internal newsletters, group intranet sites and video conferences ensure

the network is fresh, full of ideas and ready to provide high levels of

global support.



Employing a partnership means the client is working with allies,

colleagues, even friends. By employing a pic’n’mix strategy, the client

can be working with strangers.



As each agency within a partnership is a separate business, it is in the

interest of each partner to make the group work. This can only be done

through delivering the highest levels of performance. Partnerships are

thus also more accountable.



Jackson says companies should not be ’shoe-horned into a solution they

neither want nor suits them’.



But we shouldn’t underestimate the client. Also, these partnerships

(unlike many single brand networks) are not closed shops and many global

activities are undertaken with retained agencies from outside

partnerships, even from other networks.



When things aren’t going so well, in times of crisis, the client needs a

structured and co-ordinated resource that can be called upon at short

notice, briefed and will then perform to meet particular criteria.

Crises are mostly unexpected, and only an existing network can deliver

rapid response. An an affiliated network of agencies can deliver this

best.



For these reasons, the PR industry should embrace partnerships. Single

brand networks and pic’n’mix strategies have their place, but for a

fresh global resource with high levels of cost effectiveness and

performance, look no further than the partnership.



James Motley is international co-ordinator at Kestrel Worldcom.



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