When I started my business as a division of a branding company winning corporate clients was the Holy Grail. You WANTED big business because it paid well, generally, and because it was a feather in your cap. Many other PR companies were vying for the coveted corporate client, the one that would “put you on the map.” So if you got the biz it was a great day.
I won a large piece of beauty business (agency of record worldwide for a major project) with only 3 employees—me being one of them. The other two staff members were junior. In our minds we were small but mighty. We kept the client for years and really enjoyed the work, overall… I’d worked on corporate business as the VP of another PR agency prior to launching the division, so it wasn’t entirely unknown territory. But along the road, as our division grew, we certainly had our share of boutique brands. The mix of the two often worked well together, as we creatively forged alliances that used the cache of one brand to enhance the profile of a company with more spending capacity. We certainly produced some wonderful mergers.
Today, after 5 years running my own company, I do wonder, is the corporate client really the way to go? They do have more money, but they do require more resources to run. They do offer prestige, but in an increasing segmented world, smaller can often be more desirable and even visible.
Here’s what I think, corporate is great, as long as they have vision and an ability to play small. In the world of consumer products consumers want to know that they matter. The type of brand ethos that can pull that off generally starts within the culture and that makes that company a good one to work for. So yes, we love corporate, just as long as they care…
Our agency has moved into Consumer Engagement Marketing in the online space, and it's the coolest thing we've ever done. Why? Because it brings an immediate and reciprocal transaction to a space that often felt one-way. It's a natural place for a pr-based communications agency to go. We're surprised more agencies aren't embracing it, but that's ok, more opportunity for us!
Now, there are various levels of transaction (think ROI). Some can just mean participation and/or clicks. I'm actually interested in the type of transaction that equals dollars (we work with consumer products and their entire purpose is to sell!). So keep an eye on us, we're into this space and it looks promising. Imagine, taking branded pr to a new level, one where the agency is paid based on making sales, not just enhancing perception? It's definitely a crossover scenario, but it's one that I find particularly intriguing. And what makes it so strong of a package is how a good communications agency can put it all together in one place. Stay tuned, more to come!