Dhrubajyoti Gayan
Mar 11, 2011

Opinion: PR agencies need to find the God in the details

Dhrubajyoti Gayan, founder, Candour Communications

Opinion: PR agencies need to find the God in the details

Public Relations agencies and consultancies are full of cribbers.

We crib every time we lose a pitch, every time we lose an account, every time the client renegotiates the retainer downwards or refuses to give the hike that we expect, every time a client asks us how many centimeters of coverage we can guarantee.

This is not recent; it’s been happening for years.

And all of us in this business haven’t been able to do much about this – and the bad PR for the industry that follows.

Fundamentally, we have failed to market ourselves.

Most often, when we fail to win a pitch or lose an account, it’s because the client is comparing apples with oranges. He doesn’t know, with a degree of clarity, what is expected of a PR agency – we have failed to educate them enough.

For all of us who believe we’re getting the short end of the stick, the way to solve the problem is in remembering that God is in the details.

The more the details in the initial proposal and in capturing all the commitments made between client and agency, apples will, increasingly, look very different from oranges, and clients will stop the comparison.

They might still choose the apples over the oranges – but they will know why one was found more attractive than the other – as will you.

What is the professional, competent agency delivering to the client? Seen superficially, we deliver coverage and advice.

What does the fee-cutting, amateur, incompetent agency deliver? They promise the same, coverage and advice.

The more one expands on these two ‘deliverables’ in discussions and in written commitments, the more likely that the business will come to you or stay with you. In this day of – literally – thousands of newspapers, websites and news TV channels, the ‘coverage’ is not that difficult. Take advertising, as you read this magazine. It’s not rocket science to get a story into Campaign India or any of their competition. Add the dotcom offerings, and you get your client at least 10 ‘clippings’.

But can the average agency advise the client on who should be the spokesperson, how that spokesperson should speak, what he should say and how often? Anyone can peddle good news from a prominent brand but does an average agency have the wherewithal to stand by the company in trying times and advise the top management on how to control a situation and do it? Does the average agency personnel have the experience and knowledge to structure and sell stories that will build a brand? Does the average agency have the relationships and in depth understanding of how the media works and how different media speak to each other in today’s day to be able to build campaigns rather than just get column centimetres of coverage? Can the average agency predict coverage in specific publications before an exercise is carried out?

Can you?

What kind of an agency or professional are you?

Campaign India

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