THE BIG QUESTION: What are the pros and cons of a one consultant/one client agency?

Former full-service agency consultant Arlo Guthrie last week

launched his new vehicle on the principle that clients are best served

by a dedicated account handler rather than a team of only

partly-committed staff.

ARLO GUTHRIE, Guthrie Communications

'For me, PR would be more accurately described as advocacy, or

championing. Acting as another's champion is a position of great

responsibility - especially in as public an arena as the media. Therein

lies the biggest advantage of the one consultant/ one client agency. The

client is always assured of absolute commitment from their advocate. And

unlike in the traditional agency situation, the client always knows how

much of their advocate's time they are buying. It's simple: all of it!

That also simplifies reporting lines. And the cons? Well, it does limit

the size of account we can take on. But hell, do I care? If it works for

our clients, it works for me.'


'It takes a lot of confidence to believe that a one consultant/one

client set-up can work. But it's also naive and lacks a sense of

reality. To handle a client's account properly, you need more than one

person's input so as to ensure there is balance, focus, creativity and

you maximise ideas. If you don't have this, you will suffer from tunnel

vision, as you won't have the balance of a team, or the outside

influence from working on other accounts, and you will do your client a

disservice. The one consultant/one client set-up will also lead to

burn-out on the consultant's part, as he or she tries to do too


RUSS BRADY, Co-operative Insurance Society

'If there are gaps within your in-house team, the idea of having a

dedicated external person appeals - but caveats apply. Will this

personalisation deliver in terms of a cost-benefit analysis to the

client? Will the external consultant have sufficient skills to fill the

gaps on their own? If these questions can be answered then yes, this

could be a real winner. People in my position are cynical of those

agencies who heavily play the pitch circuit but continue to stress their

undivided loyalties to their existing clients - often without any

justification. It boils down to more openness between agencies and their

existing clients. Any agency can produce a good pitch, but the real

winners will be those that can consistently deliver added value to both

new and existing clients.'

SALLI RANDI, Blue Rubicon

'One consultant/one client might sound like a good proposition: the

consultant would be able to get right under the skin of the issues,

understand what makes the business tick and, most importantly, be

totally accountable to the client. But there is the danger that the

consultant goes native, loses the freshness that outside thinking can

deliver, and fails to see the bigger picture. The other problem is

recruiting and retaining staff because, let's face it, most people

choose the consultancy environment because of the variety of clients and

projects it brings. The aim must be to convey complex messages in a

holistic way to all a company's stakeholders. And if you add to this

senior level implementation instead of delegating delivery to a junior

staffer, you get accountability as well.'

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