PR consultancies are just as prone to fads in management theory as
any other type of company. And in a people business, there is often a
tendency to overdramatise the importance of each tweak of the agency
structure as a blinding innovation which will leave the opposition
So it would be easy to dismiss the decision of Lexis PR to set up a
creative department as just such a flourish. But maybe it isn’t.
One of the most significant trends in PR consultancy over the last
decade and a half has been the emergence of the specialist - consultants
who specialise in either a particular branch of PR, like lobbying or
investor relations or issues management, or those who specialise in a
particular industry sector, like IT or healthcare. Some of the most
successful consultancies during that time have made their names in such
niches, and many of the big generalist consultancies have responded by
re-shaping themselves into divisions along similar lines.
But while the principle of specialisation in particular kinds of PR is
well accepted, consultancy executives are still expected to be all
things to all clients in other ways. They have to be account handlers
and managers, new business getters, event organisers, salesmen, media
experts, writers and creative geniuses. Yet how many people genuinely
excel at all of those things?
Lexis is not the first to try to restructure itself in line with the
skills of its staff, and its preferred solution may not suit all. But in
an increasingly competitive environment, it will become even more
important for consultancies to play to the strengths of their people in
order to extract the maximum value for clients.