In terms of PR firms, bigger isn’t always better

When choosing a PR team with which to work, you may wonder whether bigger is better. The author, who owns a boutique agency, explains when it is and when it isn’t.

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Sure, it does, for PR and other creative services. From the agency perspective, size can be a powerful differentiator. But just how it stacks up depends on your point of view.

Smaller firms are a better value, right? Not necessarily.

I’ve held senior positions at firms that range from mega-agency to mid-size. When I was with the big guys, a pitch involving a small firm always rankled, partly because we immediately felt pressure to be price-flexible. And, make no mistake, even mega-firms can be very flexible. During tough times, large agencies bring out the big guns, drop their prices, and punch below their weight.

Small agencies also have wiles. It’s energizing to be the David in an agency shoot-out. My favorite is closing with lines like, “We service clients, not shareholders.” And it’s true that owner-operated firms can more credibly promise senior-level involvement, especially for clients who aren’t billing seven figures.

So which is better? Though as a boutique agency owner I have a clear bias, I also know that a smaller firm doesn’t suit every client. Here’s my checklist on how to assess the size factor.

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