The CEO of a budding web site recently asked me why he should hire us instead of a ’name’ firm. Having been in the business for 10 years, I was confused by this query. What’s a name? Never one to say no to a challenge, I answered it without ’snarkiness.’
The CEO of a budding web site recently asked me why he should hire
us instead of a ’name’ firm. Having been in the business for 10 years, I
was confused by this query. What’s a name? Never one to say no to a
challenge, I answered it without ’snarkiness.’
If your clients are successful with the media, they rarely question how
big a name their PR firm has. Many of our people started at larger
’factory-type’ firms and they too excel at sending glossy daily reports
with little substance in them. We wrangle that habit out of people.
People know a smaller firm isn’t a ’yes bunch’ and sure, a lot of huge
companies get miffed when a PR company doesn’t send them a ’Guess what?’
memo every day. We just don’t. Most small firms don’t have the manpower
to do this.
If you, as we, choose to work with truly innovative and solid (read:
busy) businesses, you discover these folks would rather the PR pro is
doing the work - calling, faxing, paging, carrier-pigeoning the media -
than writing truck loads of memoranda.
If small firms are truly comprised of highly respected PR pros,
particularly in a space as crowded as new media, then highly respected
new media pros are going to be attracted to that firm. I can’t
understand why we should compare ourselves to ’better known’ anythings.
In fact, one of the world’s largest PR firms recently asked us to work
in partnership with them solely because they liked our ideas and
recognized the limits of their own.
An independent agency can make its own rules. Large firms do - unlike us
- hourly billings, have flashy production values, charge two to three
times our fees, and so on. We smaller types spend cash on hiring the
best new media PR pros available and on phone bills placing stories. In
short, we deliver results for a substantially lower cost than our name-
If your firm has highly skilled strategists and you take an aggressive
approach to getting out and talking with the media, that’s your calling
card. Large firms, unlike us, bill clients by the hour and often take up
to six months to formulate plans and market a message before any
pitching takes place. Small firms can’t afford to do that (and are bored
Small firms are strategic partners. If a small budding brand wants a
real strategic partner, go with the hungry guys (so-called non-
Because of a favorable staff/client ratio and controlled costs, clients
always know who’s working on their accounts.
We do not believe there is any reason to itemize differentiation. The
points mentioned above should be sufficient to demonstrate that a ’name’
is a moniker with a better press agent.
- Richard Laermer, author of The Native’s Guide To New York guidebook
series, is CEO of RLM Public Relations in his spare time.