ANALYSIS: BIG QUESTION; Can management consultants provide good PR advice?

John Stephens PA Consulting Group

John Stephens PA Consulting Group

‘I can’t speak on behalf of all management consultancies, as many of

them only dabble in communications, but PA Consulting has had a fully

integrated communications practice operating within the broader

management consultancy for a number of years. Our clients say they

receive higher quality communications advice from us because we base it

on real business insights. Many PR agencies are unable to provide this

as most of their staff simply do not understand the bigger picture’.

Patrick Orr Raitt Orr and Associates

‘The risk of the PR function being taken over by an expansion of

management consultancy business has disturbing implications for our

industry. It shows clearly that we have failed to put our professional

message across succinctly and directly to the corporate sector. The

signs have been apparent for some time and, as usual, the industry is

slow in reacting to them. Thus public relations becomes an add-on to

management consultancy in the same way as it becomes an add-on to


David Wynne-Morgan WMC Communications

‘There’s no reason why they shouldn’t provide good advice - in the same

way that I reckon I can provide good management consultancy. There are

no longer clear differences between different practices and I think we

will increasingly see overlap between ‘territories’. However, if I was a

client, I would be looking for an agency with the best track record in

communications and PR and that company is not likely to be a management


Mike Wilson Marketing Improvements Group

‘As management consultants, our key role is to help clients develop and

implement marketing and sales strategies. We are often asked to advise

on marketing communications, including PR. Although we may well then

recommend that PR is used to communicate particular messages to specific

markets, we would always counsel that a professional PR agency is used

to implement such strategies and tactics.’

Alison Canning Burson-Marsteller

‘Management consultancies tend to be more methodology-driven than

communications companies, particularly at the implementation end of the

business. This leaves little room for creativity and intuition. They are

also predominantly internally-focused and inexperienced in dealing with

external third parties. Therefore, their ability to counsel on

communications strategy, when they do not have the experience to know

what will and won’t work, is also questionable.’

The Big Question is edited by Lexie Goddard

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