PR agencies: don't start a price war on fees

Hi, my name is Steve and I am an agency owner struggling with COVID-19.

PR agencies: don't start a price war on fees

Phew, now that’s out the way can we please focus on why lowering prices on creative work is akin to giving up your goodies on a first date after a meal paid for with a voucher?

My business partner and I have spoken to loads of agency founders over the past 16 weeks to find out how they’re doing. I’d love to say it’s because we’re nice, but it’s more like asking your classmates what they got for question 11 after a GCSE maths exam; we wanted to know how others are doing to validate that we’re doing OK.

We’re all doing variations of OK. But the way out of this mess isn’t to go to our knees on fees.

Adversity can be a lifeblood of creativity and in a world where we’re all desperate for joyful news and distraction, it’s our creative duty to supply it.

We have a responsibility to each other to not bring about our own industry recession or collectively see off some of our most exciting small businesses because we have the savings to do all the work, for half as much.

Don’t capitulate, innovate.

Our mission should be to collectively elevate our PR craft, not to suddenly start a price war to the bottom. Remember the supermarket price wars? Sure, there were great deals – unless you were a farmer or producer being asked to supply them. I didn’t – potentially – lose half a lung to spray mount in the 2000s to suddenly start selling award-winning work for less than a shady pair of Gucci sliders.

I get why ambulance-chasing exists, but the clue that it’s gross is in its title. If clients are unhappy, they should leave an agency and put the work out to pitch. Surely that is what stops our industry descending into lawlessness?

And don’t even get me started on seven-way pitch processes. The only seven-way that should exist is S Club 7.

To quote the allegedly problematic, transphobic and racist L’Oréal, please remember: “We’re worth it.”

Steve Strickland is co-founder of Talker Tailor Trouble Maker

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