But one aspect of the business that remains outdated, and that impacts everything else about the client-agency relationship, is the agency search process. It’s directly related to PR’s poor reputation in my view. Which is why, when I first read about AirPR, a new company that’s been described as a “Match.com” for startups needing PR, I was intrigued.
Armed with $1 million in seed funding from big-name venture capitalists and angel investors, AirPR aims to prevent new businesses from spending up to $40,000 with large PR firms that push the work down to juniors by pairing them with qualified consultants or boutique firms who charge much gentler fees.
Now I don’t know many startups that begin with a PR firm at $40,000 a month, but AirPR is right about one thing: The client-agency matching methodology is broken. The best thing you can say about the request for proposal (RFP) process is that it’s a frustrating, archaic, time suck for both parties. Agencies complain bitterly about the creative commitment, staff expense, and hidden (and not-so-hidden) biases in the process, while clients often don’t get what they need. Expensive search consultants or intern-led Web searches aren’t much better.