Tag Archives: PR agency

More PR agencies in Manchester – but are there too many?

PR agencies in ManchesterA new week, a new PR agency – at least we can say there is no shortage of PR agencies in Manchester to fill the local media pages with news.

I suspect the pattern is being repeated in many other cities as PR professionals turn their skills to working for their own organisations.

It is a welcome development for clients perhaps with new experience being offered from some many PR suppliers.

However, I also suspect that the market cannot maintain so many new PR agencies in Manchester or elsewhere.

The economy is still slumbering along and more to the point PR is changing. 

As pointed out in a recent post PR alone is not what many businesses want or need.  It seems they need a broader range of services: social media, copy writing, marketing as well as those activities that come under “pure” PR.

Manchester although a city, a reasonably big city does not have the wealth of opportunity that London takes for granted although Manchester PR agencies can more than compete with their London rivals. Can it provide the substance for more PR agencies in Manchester for higher end accounts?

If you look at Manchester SMEs, then those same agencies often need to be able to offer a marketing package.

While it is admirable and understandable that so many PR agencies in Manchester seem to be forming, it is interesting to guess the effect on the Manchester PR scene.

Moreover, many of the new agencies in Manchester seem to be focused on B2C rather than B2B, which also asks more questions of the above.

It is not an issue completely confined to PR agencies in Manchester (or other cities), the same could possibly be asked of SEO agencies (in the near to mid-future) and they have generally been enjoying a period of tremendous growth.

But then again we have the issues of Penguin, Panda and Google algorithms there.   

Still, I am not going to predict the future on all but one point: PR is in more flux than it has been since the deregulation of professional services that enabled firms to use advertising in the mid-90s and consequently it is a question of adaptation as well as competition.

Crunch time for Manchester PR agencies?

Manchester PR agencies have been recruiting and getting fat on impressive account wins for some time.  That’s alright.

It seemed that the MEN media section and other Manchester / North West / trade publications have had little trouble finding positive stories.  But now that we are all going to be Okies and live in Hoovervilles (if recent front page editorials from the nationals are anything to judge by), how will this affect the city’s PR outfits?

The  Drum magazine quoting Plimsoll, an industry analyst, paints a bad picture of the industry as a whole.  Findings for 1,000 UK agencies surveyed include:

  • 30% of workforce could have to go
  • 75% of agencies need to reduce headcount
  • 116 agencies need to consolidate immediately or their survival is in question
  • 20% of agencies are running at a loss

I spoke to an  PR supplier the industry on Friday and these figures are being reflected in bahaviour.  So much so that agencies are cutting back on £200 extras that would not have been questioned before.

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There is a good side though.  There is hope.

Firstly, until something happens it is not 100% definite that it is going to happen.  It sounds like tautology I know.  The slow down could be brief, shallow; cheaper oil and lower interest rates could work.   I am not sure I believe this, but….

Secondly The Drum carried out a poll that found, after digital, PR was viewed as the marketing discipline most suited to survive in a recession.

Thirdly, as Bron Earnes of Hasilmann Taylor (not Manchester based, but I will accept her viewpoint)  says agencies working to 20% margins that closely revue spending and forecasts should survive.  A conclusion could be that the industry might be better placed after a down turn because good agencies, which are keen, will survive.  It could mean a better service to clients and a better perception of the industry.

Fourthly, as Charles Tattersall of Manchester PR agency Citypress says established players and smaller agencies with lower cost bases and fees could also do well.    Some agencies will do well and adapt.

It could be an opportunity for some.  Indeed while the PR supplier said that while some agencies were making redundancies, there was some that were just full on with their expansion.

Manchester’s most famous PR agency

So which is Manchester’s most famous PR agency?

When I was looking for jobs you could hazard a guess many times who the company was if the recruitment company gave you the clues.

A big defence company in Lancashire would not be hard to guess if a recruitment company offered your a PR position: BAE Systems

I came across a PR exec job of Totaljobs that has me guessing.

It opens, “Manchester’s most famous PR agency is looking for an Account Executive to work on some of its prestigious public relations clients.”

Who is it?

If I had to narrow it to 10 I would choose the following (of course we could argue about famous in what circles and what locations etc):

Brazen
Communique
SKV
Citypress
Mason Williams
Connectpoint
Staniforth
Golley Slater (although they are nationwide)
Weber Shandwick (North)
Tangerine

It is a competitive list for the title of Manchester’s most famous PR agency. So who are they talking about?

Manchester's most famous PR agency
So which is Manchester’s most famous PR agency?

Getting more out of your PR agency – with just a little more effort.

If you treat your marketing or PR agency as simply a supplier they will loose motivation. Your work will be undertaken, professionally perhaps, but it will be just a job to the agency staff.

Treat your agency with respect and interest and they will give you their best.

Agency staff are human. They also have to juggle a multitude of projects from a number of clients at any one time. Companies that treat their agency staff as a welcome extension of their company will receive that little bit extra of effort from their agency, irrespective of whether they are stretched or not.

It takes very little to get the best from an agency providing you have chosen the right one for you. The following, easy to do tips, will take up no more budget. A little time and a positive approach could transform your marketing and online output. The bottom line is that it will produce better results.

10 agency handling tips to improve your results:

Meet your agency team regularly to an agreed timetable

Work through problems – when difficulties arise work with the agency to overcome them: consultation not confrontation

Make briefs as simple and clear as possible – take the time to convey exactly what you want to achieve: it will save time later if the agency understand your aims from the start

Listen to your agency – you pay them for their guidance and advice

Be open and realistic in your interaction

Take an interest in the agency’s work – many companies surprisingly pay for a service and then place it at the bottom of their priorities

Convey enthusiasm in your company and want it wants to achieve – if you are not enthusiastic how will your agency be?

Return e-mails and calls – constant chasing to get a sign off or flag up an opportunity is not an effective use of the agency’s time

Praise good work and results – agency teams are human as well and a little appreciation goes a long way

Payment – late payment or fear of not being paid dampens enthusiasm very quickly; many agencies are perceived as rich but margins can be thinner than clients appreciate