PRWEEK AGENCY REPORT 1998: Recipe for success - Client/agency relationships are better than ever, judging by this year’s PR Week Agency Report. (2 of 2)

FIREFLY

FIREFLY



Firefly has not only maintained its five-star rating, but with 83 out of

100 it also has the distinction of totalling the highest overall score

in this year’s report. The main reason was an outstanding agency

credentials mark. But, to keep egos in check, it should be added that

the company put in a slightly weaker client assessment than last

year.



That aside, an excellent annual growth rate and pre-tax profit margin

meant the agency scored well on business performance. Investment in

training was similarly impressive and a handful of CAM diplomas and PR

degrees boosted marks for staff. As expected from a hi-tech specialist,

the agency kept its high infrastructure score and improved its quality

marks with Investors in People accreditation. In addition a host of

awards from the PRCA and IPR brought full marks for industry

recognition.



Clients rated the agency highly, commenting on its knowledge of the

market, enthusiasm and creativity. One said: ’They understand our

company and goals and execute the agreed plans.’



Overall, the feeling is that this agency has strong relationships with

its clients, scoring perfect marks for level of contact, time spent by

senior management on accounts and for the consistency of handlers.



AGENCY CREDENTIALS

                            MARK   OUT OF

Business performance          12       15

Staff                          8        9

Infrastructure                 6        7

Quality controls               6        7

Industry recognition           2        2

Total                         34       40

CLIENT ASSESSMENT

                            MARK   OUT OF

Pitch promises                 8       10

Relationship with agency       9       10

Nuts and bolts                 6       10

Evaluation                     8       10

Client satisfaction           18       20

Total                         49       60



FISHBURN HEDGES



The highest mark achieved by any agency for business performance helped

Fishburn Hedges better its four-star rating from last year to gain five

stars this time around. Very healthy profits and high earnings per head

give the agency its excellent business performance mark despite slightly

below average growth.



Other agency credentials marks, although healthy, are lower than those

gained by the agency last year, except for infrastructure. Investment in

training is below average, resulting in a modest staff score despite

staff being well qualified.



Fishburn Hedges gains very good client assessment marks. What most

impresses clients is the enthusiasm and genuineness of staff. ’They are

engaging individuals who work hard on our behalf,’ commented one.



Like last year, Fishburn Hedges was one of the agencies most willing to

offer tough advice. Other nuts and bolts skills such as research and

oral abilities were also highly rated.



The agency was marked down slightly by clients for evaluation of its own

work, but a near-perfect score for being pro-active after the pitch, as

well as high standard of service brought the pitch promises mark to an

excellent nine out of ten.



AGENCY CREDENTIALS

                            MARK   OUT OF

Business performance          14       15

Staff                          5        9

Infrastructure                 5        7

Quality controls               5        7

Industry recognition           0        2

Total                         29       40

CLIENT ASSESSMENT

                            MARK   OUT OF

Pitch promises                 9       10

Relationship with agency       9       10

Nuts and bolts                 8       10

Evaluation                     6       10

Client satisfaction           16       20

Total                         48       60



GRANT BUTLER COOMBER



The second highest mark achieved by any agency comfortably gives Grant

Butler Coomber (GBC) a five-star rating. Overall the agency’s mark is

the same as last year, the difference is that it scores one point higher

on agency credentials but one point lower on client assessment.



The business performance mark is marginally lower than last year, with

well above average growth being tempered by below average earnings per

head. GBC picks up maximum marks for infrastructure, with marketing

being particularly impressive.



The most significant difference in GBC’s client assessment is its mark

for pitch performance, where the score of six was pulled down thanks to

clients marking the agency down on proactivity after pitching.



However, GBC significantly raised its nuts and bolts score. Here the

agency was rated as particularly impressive in meeting deadlines, agency

contacts and research, and appears to be more willing than most agencies

to give tough advice. Evaluation also improved, with clients praising

GBC’s media performance. Relationships scored slightly lower than last

year, but dialogue, time spent on the account by senior management and

consistency of account handlers all merited maximum marks.



AGENCY CREDENTIALS

                            MARK   OUT OF

Business performance          10       15

Staff                          8        9

Infrastructure                 7        7

Quality controls               6        7

Industry recognition           0        2

Total                         31       40

CLIENT ASSESSMENT

                            MARK   OUT OF

Pitch promises                 6       10

Relationship with agency       9       10

Nuts and bolts                 9       10

Evaluation                     9       10

Client satisfaction           18       20

Total                         51       60



GRAYLING



Grayling managed to stay in the five-star category though its overall

score dropped from last year’s 79 to 76. Business performance moved up a

notch though, with pre-tax profit margins at the top of the scale,

although average earnings per head were slightly below par for its fee

income group. On the staff side the score was boosted by an above

average commitment to training.



Clients’ comments were laudatory: ’they are fun to work with, I don’t

know what we would have done without them’ and ’they are very

professional and have excellent contacts with the media’, although some

clients felt they could build on their technological infrastructure.



A high score for relationships with clients was awarded due to top

scores for dialogue and service levels, and a very high score for that

elusive ’chemistry’ factor.



Client assessment gave the agency a total score of 47 out of 60 and

showed senior management apparently spending just the right amount of

time on accounts.



Consistency and relationships with other suppliers both received top

scores and it was generally felt that the agency provides good value for

money.



AGENCY CREDENTIALS

                            MARK   OUT OF

Business performance          11       15

Staff                          7        9

Infrastructure                 5        7

Quality controls               5        7

Industry recognition           1        2

Total                         29       40

CLIENT ASSESSMENT

                            MARK   OUT OF

Pitch promises                 7       10

Relationship with agency       9       10

Nuts and bolts                 8       10

Evaluation                     7       10

Client satisfaction           16       20

Total                         47       60



HARRISON COWLEY



This first-time entrant in the Agency Report turned in a solid

performance.



Clients praised the agency’s pitch performance, particularly its

proactive qualities. ’They consistently deliver what they promise,’ said

one client.



The pitch promises score was high, with clients scoring well for service

and results , as well as meeting the brief. Harrison Cowley’s evaluation

of its own work was also singled out as being impressive. Working

relationships too were deemed to be very good.



The least satisfactory score for client assessment was for nuts and

bolts performance. Here some clients felt the agency should be more

ready to offer tough advice. But overall endorsement was strong, and

clients appeared willing to reappoint the agency.



On the agency credentials front, growth, profit margins and earnings per

head were all below average for an agency of this size. Investment in

training was also some way below average, but staff are well qualified,

with a smattering of higher and PR degrees and CAM diplomas. The agency

scored well on evaluation systems and infrastructure, having good

investment in technology. Harrison Cowley’s network of UK offices has

resulted in clients saying that ’they have good press contacts, and

offer local attention’.



AGENCY CREDENTIALS

                            MARK   OUT OF

Business performance           5       15

Staff                          5        9

Infrastructure                 6        7

Quality controls               6        7

Industry recognition           1        2

Total                         23       40

CLIENT ASSESSMENT

                            MARK   OUT OF

Pitch promises                 9       10

Relationship with agency       8       10

Nuts and bolts                 6       10

Evaluation                     8       10

Client satisfaction           17       20

Total                         48       60



HERALD COMMUNICATIONS



A total client assessment of 48 out of 60 for Herald matches last year’s

score and shows that the agency consistently gets it right for clients,

who believe they are getting very good value for money and are likely to

reappoint.



Business performance, the weak link last year, showed marginal

improvement, though three out of 15 clearly leaves room for further

progress. Both annual growth and earnings per head are below average for

Herald’s fee income group. Infrastructure remained the same, while

quality controls improved markedly with both in-house and outside

evaluation in place.



Clients feel the agency communicates well and, most importantly,

delivers on promises. One client said: ’They are always contactable and

are extremely reliable and never let us down, even at short notice.’ The

agency’s versatility also comes in for praise, but perhaps it should

also take on board comments such as ’reporting could be more specific’

and ’feedback could be more regular’. Herald continues to score a strong

17 out of 20 on client satisfaction.



Staff resources continue to be strong and sound investment in training,

a well qualified workforce and good benefits helped Herald edge upwards

from the two to the three-star category.



AGENCY CREDENTIALS

                            MARK   OUT OF

Business performance           3       15

Staff                          6        9

Infrastructure                 4        7

Quality controls               5        7

Industry recognition           0        2

Total                         18       40

CLIENT ASSESSMENT

                            MARK   OUT OF

Pitch promises                 7       10

Relationship with agency       9       10

Nuts and bolts                 7       10

Evaluation                     8       10

Client satisfaction           17       20

Total                         48       60



ICAS PR



Another impressive performance by Icas PR boosted its rating this year

to four stars from three last year.



A solid annual growth rate and a good pre-tax profit margin gave Icas a

credible business performance mark. In addition, increased investment in

technology, an array of self-marketing initiatives and BS EN IS 90002

accreditation meant very good scores for infrastructure and quality

But, while staff are highly qualified and over 20 per cent have a CAM

diploma, the agency was penalised for lower investment in training.

However, clients had many favourable things to say. ’They listen to our

brief, absorb it and give good advice,’ said one. Others praise its

professionalism, responsiveness and friendliness. These comments are

reflected in the agency’s improved client assessment marks. On pitch

performance Icas scored well on proactivity, quality of ideas and how

well it met the brief. All clients felt they have a good dialogue with

the agency and gave full marks for the consistency of account handlers.

Client satisfaction also improved on last year. All said they were

fairly charged and received very good or adequate value for money.

Comments such as ’easy to get on with and part of our team’, amply

reflect the agency’s all-round improvement.



AGENCY CREDENTIALS

                            MARK   OUT OF

Business performance           8       15

Staff                          5        9

Infrastructure                 6        7

Quality controls               6        7

Industry recognition           0        2

Total                         25       40

CLIENT ASSESSMENT

                            MARK   OUT OF

Pitch promises                 9       10

Relationship with agency       8       10

Nuts and bolts                 6       10

Evaluation                     7       10

Client satisfaction           16       20

Total                         46       60



INFOPRESS



Infopress joins the Agency Report this year with a two-star rating.



While its business performance marks were poor, clients rate the agency

highly, giving it a total of 49 out of 60. Client comments reflect very

close relationships. One reported ’an excellent chemistry between

Infopress and us’. Another said: ’They seem to be part of our own

organisation.’



Pitch feedback also reflects client goodwill with a good score on

meeting its brief and being proactive. Clients awarded top marks for a

sound dialogue with the agency, time spent by senior management on

accounts and consistency of account handling.



Infopress scored just 15 out of 40 on agency credentials due to below

average profitability, growth and earnings per head, but a strong staff

score presents a firm base for the future with expenditure on training

high although perhaps a little more could be done on infrastructure to

market the company.



The quality controls score was lower than would be expected, despite the

fact that Infopress markets its own Impact evaluation system. This was

due to the lack of quality assurance systems in place and the fact that

Infopress doesn’t have an in-house planning system. A good staff mark

was achieved through high investment in training.



AGENCY CREDENTIALS

                            MARK   OUT OF

Business performance           1       15

Staff                          5        9

Infrastructure                 5        7

Quality controls               4        7

Industry recognition           0        2

Total                         15       40

CLIENT ASSESSMENT

                            MARK   OUT OF

Pitch promises                 8       10

Relationship with agency       9       10

Nuts and bolts                 8       10

Evaluation                     7       10

Client satisfaction           17       20

Total                         49       60



KEENE COMMUNICATIONS



Only three agencies got a better agency credentials score than Keene

Communications, which moves up to a four-star rating from two stars last

year. Only its client assessment score held it back from a achieving a

five-star rating. Stronger business performance would have seen Keene

get an even higher agency credentials rating, but modest growth dragged

down healthy profits and slightly above average earnings per head.



High investment in training gave Keene a very good staff score. An

active marketing policy contributed towards a high score for

infrastructure.



Investors in People status and comprehensive in-house evaluation systems

also meant a good score for quality.



It was disappointing scores in the performance evaluation section of the

client assessment category that pulled its client assessment scores

down. However, it scored well in the relationships sector and the

general feeling is that Keene offers good value for money.



Overall, the tone was positive with many appreciative comments. Two

clients singled out the enthusiasm of the staff, and two others

mentioned the working relationship as most satisfactory.



AGENCY CREDENTIALS

                            MARK   OUT OF

Business performance           9       15

Staff                          8        9

Infrastructure                 6        7

Quality controls               5        7

Industry recognition           1        2

Total                         29       40

CLIENT ASSESSMENT

                            MARK   OUT OF

Pitch promises                 8       10

Relationship with agency       7       10

Nuts and bolts                 7       10

Evaluation                     5       10

Client satisfaction           15       20

Total                         42       60



KETCHUM



The equal second highest agency credentials score, backed up by good

marks from clients, means Ketchum matches the five-star rating achieved

last year.



The agency credentials mark is five points higher than last year,

suggesting the agency has worked hard on its in-house systems. Healthy

profit margins are responsible for the very good business performance

score.



The staff score has leapt three points on the back of very high

investment in training. Infrastructure also rates one point higher,

thanks to impressive in-house capabilities such as video conferencing

and multimedia.



Ketchum’s client assessment mark shows very few weaknesses. The lowest

score is for nuts and bolts, where all clients said the agency only

offers tough advice when prompted. The pitch promises mark would have

been higher had Ketchum scored better on the quality of its ideas.



On the positive side, the quality and professionalism of the agency was

appreciated. Dialogue was deemed to be very good.



Two of the five clients surveyed thought Ketchum’s overall performance

had improved, and one client even thought that the agency

undercharged.



AGENCY CREDENTIALS

                            MARK   OUT OF

Business performance          11       15

Staff                          8        9

Infrastructure                 6        7

Quality controls               6        7

Industry recognition           0        2

Total                         31       40

CLIENT ASSESSMENT

                            MARK   OUT OF

Pitch promises                 8       10

Relationship with agency       9       10

Nuts and bolts                 7       10

Evaluation                     8       10

Client satisfaction           17       20

Total                         49       60



LANSONS COMMUNICATIONS



Lansons turned in an impressive all round score to retain its five-star

rating this year. An excellent pre-tax profit margin and good average

earnings per head resulted in a solid business performance. Total

investment per head on training was well above average and a good

infrastructure score was gained from an impressive array of technology

applications.



The agency excelled on industry recognition, citing a host of awards

from both the PRCA, IPR and PR Week. In addition, an in-house planning

function, evaluation system and outside agency support helped secure a

good quality score.



Most encouragingly, Lansons improved its client evaluation marks this

year in the nuts and bolts category. It was rated highly on its ability

to keep promises and meet deadlines and faired well on oral skills and

attention to detail. Clients also valued the agency’s pitch performance,

evaluation, and their relationship - although unusually, there were

criticisms of being overly pestered.



However client satisfaction was very good, with 60 per cent seeing an

improvement in performance on last year and all saying they were likely

to reappoint the agency. ’They understand our business and give us

advice and support of a consistent quality,’ said one.



AGENCY CREDENTIALS

                            MARK   OUT OF

Business performance          10       15

Staff                          5        9

Infrastructure                 5        7

Quality controls               6        7

Industry recognition           2        2

Total                         28       40

CLIENT ASSESSMENT

                            MARK   OUT OF

Pitch promises                 8       10

Relationship with agency       8       10

Nuts and bolts                 7       10

Evaluation                     8       10

Client satisfaction           18       20

Total                         49       60



LEXIS PR



Lexis PR turned in another good performance to keep its five-star

rating. In terms of client assessment, Lexis achieved top marks for its

client relationships once again, gaining maximum points for levels of

contact, time spent on accounts by senior management and responsiveness

to client needs. Similarly, Lexis was judged well on evaluation, meeting

deadlines, keeping promises and attention to detail.



But while last year’s impressive scores were improved upon in many

categories,this was counter-balanced by a dip in others. For instance,

business performance was strong on pre-tax profit margin, but suffered

slightly for a below average annual growth rate and income per head for

size of agency.



Infrastructure and quality marks remained high and reflected the

company’s commitment to new technology and in-house and media evaluation

systems.



In addition, there were top marks for investment per head on

training.



Overall client satisfaction was impressive. All felt they received

adequate or very good value for money and said they were likely to

reappoint the agency. ’They are very flexible and understand our company

and our need to change goals regularly,’ said one. Another praised their

’honesty, vision and understanding of our business’.



AGENCY CREDENTIALS

                            MARK   OUT OF

Business performance           9       15

Staff                          7        9

Infrastructure                 6        7

Quality controls               6        7

Industry recognition           0        2

Total                         28       40

CLIENT ASSESSMENT

                            MARK   OUT OF

Pitch promises                 6       10

Relationship with agency      10       10

Nuts and bolts                 8       10

Evaluation                     8       10

Client satisfaction           18       20

Total                         50       60



MACLAURIN COMMUNICATIONS



MacLaurin Communications shaved one star from its rating this year, due

to more modest business performance marks than in 1997.



However, satisfaction was still high, with 40 per cent of clients seeing

an improvement in performance on last year and all feeling they received

very good or adequate value for money. Positive comments ranged from

’responsive, bubbly and energetic’, to ’they know what they are doing

and don’t promise if they know they can’t deliver’.



The agency also scored well on pitch promises and, in particular, on its

quality of ideas, results, service and meeting the brief. Similarly,

clients viewed their relationship with MacLaurin very favourably. All

said they have a good dialogue with the agency and felt the time spent

on their account by senior management was about right. Good marks for

nuts and bolts and evaluation also helped maintain the client assessment

score at 49 out of 60.



In terms of agency credentials, MacLaurin’s score was still healthy,

maintaining the same scores as last year in three out of five

categories.



An excellent staff score reflects the fact that the agency looks after

its staff well, providing many benefits and a hefty investment in

training.



AGENCY CREDENTIALS

                            MARK   OUT OF

Business performance           6       15

Staff                          8        9

Infrastructure                 4        7

Quality controls               4        7

Industry recognition           0        2

Total                         22       40

CLIENT ASSESSMENT

                            MARK   OUT OF

Pitch promises                 8       10

Relationship with agency       9       10

Nuts and bolts                 7       10

Evaluation                     8       10

Client satisfaction           17       20

Total                         49       60



NEXUS CHOAT



There is a very marked contrast between this agency’s client assessment

and its agency credentials score. An equal second highest score for

client assessment is counterbalanced by one of the lower agency

credentials scores.



Relationships, nuts and bolts and evaluation all scored very highly.



It was marked very well for delivering good service, and was the only

agency to score full marks for delivering tough advice to clients.



Pitch performance was the only area marked down, with low marks for

proactivity after the pitch. But client satisfaction was very high, with

all clients feeling that Nexus Choat gives very good value for money and

saying that they were likely to reappoint the agency. ’They do their job

exceedingly well,’ enthused one happy client.



Despite an exceptional growth rate, Nexus failed to score highly for

business performance due to below average earnings per head. Investment

in training was also below average.



The agency is one of the few to have the BS EN IS 90002 quality system

in place, but the absence of a planning function cost it marks for

quality.



With in-house mass distribution capability and on-line database access,

Nexus Choat achieved a good infrastructure score.



AGENCY CREDENTIALS

                            MARK   OUT OF

Business performance           6       15

Staff                          5        9

Infrastructure                 5        7

Quality controls               4        7

Industry recognition           1        2

Total                         21       40

CLIENT ASSESSMENT

                            MARK   OUT OF

Pitch promises                 6       10

Relationship with agency       9       10

Nuts and bolts                 9       10

Evaluation                     9       10

Client satisfaction           18       20

Total                         51       60



PROFILE PR



Profile PR gets a five-star rating in its first appearance in the Agency

Report for a very strong all-round performance. Clients are clearly

happy with the service they are getting from this agency. The only area

for improvement revealed in the client assessment was a reluctance to

offer tough advice.



Relationships were regarded as very good and the agency was marked as

very responsive. Technical expertise, business acumen and the ability to

generate ideas were mentioned as strong points, with one client saying

’they are always ahead of the game’.



The majority of clients surveyed regarded the agency’s evaluation of its

own work as impressive and felt the agency’s performance had improved

since the year before.



A higher agency credentials score would have made Profile one of the top

scoring agencies. Profit margins were healthy, but earnings per head

were below average.



Substantial investment in training and well-qualified people meant

Profile scored well in the staff section. Infrastructure is good, but it

appears that the agency could do more to promote itself. Investors in

People accreditation, client satisfaction procedures and evaluation

systems give the agency a very good score for quality.



AGENCY CREDENTIALS

                            MARK   OUT OF

Business performance           8       15

Staff                          7        9

Infrastructure                 5        7

Quality controls               6        7

Industry recognition           0        2

Total                         26       40

CLIENT ASSESSMENT

                            MARK   OUT OF

Pitch promises                 8       10

Relationship with agency       9       10

Nuts and bolts                 7       10

Evaluation                     8       10

Client satisfaction           18       20

Total                         50       60



THE RED CONSULTANCY



The Red Consultancy moved from a four to a five-star rating, continuing

to register a strong client assessment, though this slipped one mark to

51 out of 60 this year. Clients highlight a ’can-do attitude’ and a

’vibrancy of ideas’.



Meeting briefs, service and quality of ideas won the agency close to

maximum points but there is room to be more proactive which contributed

to pitch promises slipping back a couple of marks. Relationships scored

close to maximum points with client comments like :’They appreciate the

value of our relationship more than the fact we buy from them’. Red

scored a good mark for a high level of consistency in account handling.

It also scored highly in value for money, although clients feel that the

agency needs to toughen up in offering unpalatable advice.



The evaluation score stays high, and the overall rating of agency

performance shows clients are happy with this agency. The most marked

improvement was seen in agency credentials, up from 20 last year to 26.

Red was top of its fee income group in terms of annual growth and

profitability although its earnings per head were below average for its

size. There was a marked improvement on the staff side with good

training in place and good scores for qualifications.



AGENCY CREDENTIALS

                            MARK   OUT OF

Business performance          11       15

Staff                          7        9

Infrastructure                 4        7

Quality controls               3        7

Industry recognition           1        2

Total                         26       40

CLIENT ASSESSMENT

                            MARK   OUT OF

Pitch promises                 7       10

Relationship with agency       9       10

Nuts and bolts                 8       10

Evaluation                     9       10

Client satisfaction           18       20

Total                         51       60



SINCLAIR MASON



With the fourth highest score overall, Sinclair Mason made a dramatic

improvement on last year when it only rated two stars. The improvement

was particularly marked in the agency credentials section, where the

agency’s score leapt from 16 to 27. Scores in this section were higher

across the board, suggesting Sinclair Mason has worked hard to get its

own house in order.



Business performance was healthy, and earnings per head above

average.



Investment in training is at the upper end of the spectrum and staff are

well qualified. With Investors in People accreditation and a

comprehensive in-house evaluation system, Sinclair Mason’s quality mark

improved by two points. Last year’s client assessment mark of 46 was

very good, but this year Sinclair Mason recorded the equal highest

client assessment score of any agency. Relationships could not be

faulted by clients. ’They shoot straight from the hip,’ said one.



Clients also praised the agency for being proactive, but did mark it

down in the nuts and bolts category for its research capabilities. Not

surprisingly, a majority of clients felt the agency’s performance had

improved since last year and there appear to be no doubts among clients

about reappointing Sinclair Mason.



AGENCY CREDENTIALS

                            MARK   OUT OF

Business performance           9       15

Staff                          7        9

Infrastructure        

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Latest Articles

Max Clifford trial jury to continue deliberations after Easter break

Max Clifford trial jury to continue deliberations after Easter break

The jury in the trial of celebrity publicist Max Clifford has been sent home for Easter and will reconvene on Tuesday for further deliberations about its verdicts on 11 charges of indecent assault.

Home Office brings in Munro & Forster to campaign against FGM

Home Office brings in Munro & Forster to campaign against FGM

The Home Office has tasked Munro & Forster (M&F) with supporting its campaign to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM) as part of a wider retained brief.

Former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers to join Warner Bros

Former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers to join Warner Bros

Warner Bros has appointed former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers as EVP for worldwide corporate communications and public affairs, effective September 2.

Edelman takes a ride on Branson's slow-motion space adventure

Edelman takes a ride on Branson's slow-motion space adventure

Virgin Galactic is probably on every PR agency's dream assignment list, but previous delays to Richard Branson's space venture suggest it may not be a complete blast.