A very good contact of mine on the newsdesk at The Sun used to take great enjoyment from emailing me and ridiculing new PR agencies with strange and surprising names. This belies a bigger issue for new agencies and also reflects an ongoing industry trend. The issue is the need to be taken seriously and the trend is the growing number of new agencies that are launched every year.
According to the PRCA, the UK PR industry is worth in excess of £7.5bn and the figure is rising. That level of buoyancy, plus the relative ease of launching a new business, means that hundreds of new agencies are launched every year. From conflict shops or boutique offerings from the major players to marketing agencies extending their offer into PR through to sole traders, every week there are new names in the market.
The challenge for all of these new agencies is differentiation. How do you make a name for yourself amongst all the others. Having set up and launched M&C Saatchi PR in July 2010 and reflecting on the journey, these are the things we believe are important.
Look to your people – it’s a cliché but it’s true, your people are your greatest asset and it’s the combination of personalities and talents that informs so much of what makes an agency different. We set out to hire people from different backgrounds – from in-house, to broader marketing, events, digital and design – to make sure we had something interesting to offer.
Define your values – having a clear set of values (ours are to be creative, connected and committed) has really helped to give the agency a focus on the things that we think make us different.
Develop your own approach – the agency needs to have a point of view on the way PR is done and develop an approach or a philosophy that offers a point of difference. We chose to focus on ‘Brutal Simplicity’, which means our teams are always at pains to develop simple solutions to complex challenges.
Do good work – obvious but true. It doesn’t matter how differentiated the agency is, if the work isn’t good enough, given how competitive the market has become, then the business will only get so far.
Find your voice – as anyone who works in our profession knows, there’s no shortage of channels to get your message to market. If you’ve got the first four points in place then it’s critical to start talking about your business.
Chris Hides is MD at M&C Saatchi PR