Boutique agencies are critical to the future of PR

I first started in PR when Instagram didn't exist, Facebook ads weren't really 'a thing' and cost-per-click had yet to evolve into the giant performance marketing industry it is today.

Boutique PR agencies are often the entry point for challenger brands before they go global, argues Lizzie Earl
Boutique PR agencies are often the entry point for challenger brands before they go global, argues Lizzie Earl

We were all quantifying hard-earned coverage in relation to advertising value rather than consumer actions or business results, despite this still being our end goal.

Back then, that was sort of OK; there wasn’t much else agencies could do.

It was an industry-wide challenge, with TV, radio and print marketing in a similar boat.

If we all plugged away and did a good job and the business objectives were met, we could all lay claim to playing our part in the success. And most of the time, we absolutely did.

Then performance marketing came into its own.

Suddenly brands were directly tracking customer action and paying only for the success of it.

Since then, our industry has tried harder than ever to demonstrate results and prove that PR truly works.

We needed to. It would be all too easy for a brand to strike the perfect balance with its digital ads and start pumping extra budget in to proportionately yield more results. And where might this extra budget be siphoned from?

As PR professionals, we know that it takes a very special ad to get people talking and sharing organically.
Word of mouth, the most valuable marketing, is what great PR does every day.

We create stories that engage and get people talking: first the journalist or influencer; then their audiences, our consumer.

PR is powerful. I believe in it, and I’ve seen it have remarkable impact on businesses. But of course I’d say that – I’m a PR professional, after all.

Right now, there are thousands of young brands and businesses in the UK that have only ever traded in the performance marketing era.

They only know what it’s like to run campaigns where they can directly map business results back to every penny spent.

No wonder that, for these, PR might seem a tad ‘risky’.

More often than not, it’s boutique agencies that are working with challenger brands just taking their first steps into the world of marketing and deciding what they need to do to achieve their goals.

Immediate results are the name of the game, so there’s a real need now for boutique agencies to deliver work that has a tangible impact for these companies.

Not just PR for the sake of getting coverage, but PR that has a chance at competing with other marketing.

Without this, a new brand could very easily decide that it can achieve its business goals through pure performance marketing alone, and lose faith in the power of PR. As it grows into a global business, it may never return.

Nimble and hungry, boutiques are in a perfect position to 'wow' new brands; not just with great value for money and shared values, but with highly creative ideas executed at warp speed and delivered with a personal touch.

So long as we keep our game high, these growing businesses will continue to reap the benefits of results-focused PR that demands consumer action, and we will continue to ensure that PR remains a trusted staple within the marketing mix, known for delivering real, tangible, results.

Lizzie Earl is the founder of Munch

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