Top PR Agencies Do These 4 Things

By Scott Signore

There are hundreds of public relations firms in North America, the majority of which aren’t “names you know.”

PR firms you’ve heard of are in your mental rolodex for a reason: they’ve done noteworthy work for brands with name recognition.

But great PR firms do more than win awards for brands you’ve heard of. They continue to grow, even in down markets. Here’s four things top PR firms do that others don’t:

  1. Scale intelligently. Plenty of agencies scramble to add talent after they pitch and win a piece of business. This is wrong-headed. Top PR firms get ahead of the demand and hire in anticipation of winning new business. This is both art and science, and the agencies who master this approach are equipped to grow.
  2. Eliminate vendor bloodletting. Most PR agencies do media relations and maybe some social media. But when their clients need a video, or SEO, or a website refresh, they call around for suitable vendors to do the work. Perhaps they can mark it up 10 percent for their troubles. Top PR firms bring all of these skill sets in house, keeping all of the revenue and deepening the multi-faceted relationship with the client.
  3. Encourage entrepreneurialism. Thriving agencies let their people flourish. They encourage their talent to dream up additional revenue streams that add value to the client base and empower them with the resources to succeed. They ask themselves if, say, offering Satellite Media Tours and Live broadcasting abilities would benefit clients. If the answer is yes, they build a revenue model and make it work. Most agencies are hamstrung by fear, and by a mantra of “we’ve never done that kind of thing before.” And they never will.
  4. Embrace failure. The challenge of being entrepreneurial and taking risks is that nobody – ever – succeeds 100 percent of the time. Failure is part of the deal, and top firms deal with failure by quickly cutting their losses, licking their wounds and then moving on to the next big idea. There are lessons in success and perhaps even more in failure. The key is to have thick skin and never stop pushing the envelope for clients, who appreciate fresh thinking and effort far more than maintaining the status quo.

This is just a partial list of traits that separate the good from the great. I’d love to know what you’d add to this list, or what you may disagree with.