Supermarket shelves are loaded with special deals such as ’buy one,
get one free.’ But there’s still a cost involved because, as we all
know, you don’t get something for nothing.
This isn’t always the case in the world of PR, however, as the letter
from Chris McLaughlin of Visa International (opposite page)
Potential clients get rather a lot for free, in fact: time, energy, and
creativity. But PR is already spectacularly good value, so why aren’t
more agencies prepared to stick their necks out and charge for
As a client, it would be in MacLaughlin’s interest to keep quiet about
this, but he knows that good value isn’t enough: he wants best value,
and that doesn’t come cheap.
Of course, clients as enlightened as McLaughlin are as rare as hen’s
teeth. This being so, agencies anxious to avoid becoming embroiled in
expensive pitches might be well advised to examine a new initiative by
The Communications Group (see story page three).
TCG’s political division has taken the unusual route of offering members
of its latest client, the Construction Products Association, a free
half-hour consultation on how the agency can help them. Thereafter, if
the client is interested, the meter starts running, albeit at reduced
rates. You can call this a sprat-to-catch-the-mackerel strategy.
Clearly TCG has its own interests at heart. But the lobbying industry
has had a rocky few years and many potential clients will be wary of
what it can do for them. By creating a platform from which it can
educate a whole raft of small firms about the difference some
professional public affairs advice can make, TCG will also be doing the
whole sector a service.
Now that’s a valuable half hour even if, as you don’t have to be a
genius to see, it isn’t exactly free.