Friday, November 05, 2010

SIZE MATTERS

I must have got the short genes in my family.

Both my brothers are tall – over five feet 10 – and my eldest sons are tall. One is just under and the other just over six feet.

In my stocking soles I’m 5 feet 7 inches, and nothing I can do about it. My wife is taller than me. I’ve always wanted to be taller. It would certainly help when the last-minute gig goer barges into the crowd to stand right in front of me, all 8 feet 10 inches of him, or so it seems. And big guys get served quicker at a busy bar.

But this week I’ve read and listened with interest to a couple of discussions on whether big in PR is better than small. http://quietnewsday.co.uk/ and http://www.prmoment.com/403/Who-does-better-pr-big-pr-agencies-or-small-agencies.aspx

At the end of the day, I don’t think there can be a winner in the size stakes. That’s because there are excellent small PR companies (like Mike Ritchie Media) and equally top-class larger PR agencies, too many to mention. Doubtless, too, there will be some smaller PR companies and some bigger ones who are not considered to be ticking all the right boxes, but that’s a subjective matter and not one for me to focus on.

I recognise that some major organisations will have demands that can only be met by the manpower available in a company employing a lot of staff although I provided comprehensive PR support for a leading Scottish housebuilder for over a decade to that company’s satisfaction.

The clients who have entrusted their PR needs to me like the fact that after I turn up at the pitch or discussion and if I win the account, then I deal with it personally. I may bring in additional bodies – photographers or event managers and the like – on some projects and campaigns, but the client consistently and exclusively deals with me. It’s the only way a smaller business like mine can ensure the best possible, effective communications’ service.

To my mind, the bigger agencies have one major in-house advantage and that is the ability to have a lot of people bringing ideas to a particular campaign or project. But, I have to say, that I am indebted to be able to tap into the expertise of many fellow PR practitioners when I need advice or confirmation that what I was proposing for a client was OK or needed refinement. Often this help is just a phone call or a cup of coffee away.

The bigger PR outfits also enjoy bigger budgets to offer corporate entertainment to movers and shakers but, once again, I am often sanctioned to buy a journalist a lunch in the course of my duties. So it’s a question of scale rather than size.

So I don’t think big versus small is a clear-cut issue at all. In another area altogether, I use a local one-man band car mechanic in preference to any of the big garages. I’d rather buy a newspaper from a street vendor than a multiple chain newsagents. I prefer quiet neighbourhood bars to brash and noisy city centre pubs. I like smaller gig venues such as Barrowland to the SECC.

So big versus small is not the be all and end all. I try to offer a mature, appropriate, cost-effective quality service and I’m sure, in fact, I know, that those bigger company PR teams strive to do the same.

We’re all different, and that’s a good thing, don’t you think? It gives those in the market for our services greater choice – and that’s healthy.

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