The topic of the latest episode of “The El Show,” hosted by PR bloggers Richard Laermer and Geoff Livingston was whether the “big agency” model works any longer. It piqued my interest because of my experience working in one (DDB Chicago, 1998 – 2004). It was postulated that the model was on its way out because they are trying to be everything to everyone and that the trend is toward “boutique” agencies, specialists in a particular industry or vertical. And that being small allows an agency to focus on a “core competency” and to become “known” for something.
Yes, but. There are all kinds of reasons people (and organizations) stay general. Some see it as the most expedient route to growth. Others are easily bored. The biggest reason, however, is financial. To establish yourself as an expert, to be known for that one thing, you have to be able to say no to business that is not in your niche. And in this economy, how many people do you know that are turning down business?
If you’re reading this post, you can now claim to know one and through me, a few more (my clients). Most recently, and without batting an eyelash, (sorry, Tito Mambo) I passed on an Chicago-based opportunity to promote a big city-based event. I forwarded it to a colleague, who is still in Chicago, who lives for this kind of project and who I’m sure will rock it.
The agencies, however, have got themselves into such a financial pickle that I fear the only way they will be able to get out of it is to break apart, get lean (and real), figure out what they want to be known for, do some serious expertise PR around that and then band back together where it makes sense, for efficiency.
While we’re still (sort of) on the topic: I’m known for helping marketers and technology thought leaders raise their profile and gain recognition as industry experts.
What are you known for?