Friday, November 19, 2004

Fear is the enemy of PR

At SHIFT Communications, our business model is ridiculously simple. Deadly effective but still, so simple. Ready?

Don't allow yourself to be afraid.

How?

Most of our competitors in the PR industry have 1 - 3 "anchor" accounts. Big pieces of business that can account for up to 30 percent or more of agency revenues. This model creates a culture of fear. When you are afraid about your ability to pay the rent, afraid of layoffs, afraid of losing the moneymakers, you lose your integrity.

From the lowbie Account Coordinator to the agency principal, a culture of client retention focused on the importance of the monthly rent-check instills a PR program with bland strategies, ho-hum tactics and feeble account teams. This will affect not only the cash-cow clients but all the smaller accounts on the roster, as well!

In those firms, A-Players are obviously put on the Big Accounts.

But, what client DOESN'T want an A-Team?

Imagine the conversation:

Client: "PR is the single biggest line item in my marketing budget. I want the agency team that works on Dell. They must be your A-players."

Agency: "True, and they have some bandwidth."

Client: "Great - but what happens if Dell has a big emergency? Will my account team suddenly go missing on me??"

Agency: "Err...ummm...well, we have other great teams who can pitch in."

Client: "But, Dell gets the bandwidth, right? I mean, since my budget is 1/10th the size of Dell's?"

Agency: "Err...ummm..."

Client: "Again, PR is the single biggest line item in my marketing budget. But you are telling me that your A-team only gives A-level effort to their biggest account?"

Agency (thinking to themselves): "Well - duh!"


Teams that serve the big account always prioritize to the detriment of smaller accounts. That's life when you work with an agency that caters to Big Accounts.

Yet why should smaller accounts accept anything less than the big client’s "A team?"

They shouldn't.

For SHIFT, no anchors = no fear. No fear = PR programs with integrity. When your model forbids "anchor" accounts - when every client is equally important - you insist as an agency on "A-teams for all."


As far as we are concerned at SHIFT, an A-team with no fear of reprisal when the client is in-the-wrong is the team you want when the chips are down.

You WANT a PR team that can disagree with you.

You WANT a PR team that has opinions and ideas based on years of experience. You WANT a PR team that acts as your PARTNER, not as your FLUNKY.

Don't you?