We’re still specialists without specialising

We are very fortunate to work with a real variety of organisations. As an agency we made a decision before launching that we would never work with two businesses in a competing sector, the reasons to us were obvious; the client paying you the highest fee would get the best opportunities and irrelevant of confidentiality agreements, sometimes ‘just knowing’ too much is uncomfortable.

This has brought about its problems of course, not least being asked to work for two of the UK’s largest brands in their respective categories only to have to turn around and decline the opportunities as we were already working with competing brands. Still, great problem to have!

Building on this, in recent years we have had a number of approaches from prospective clients asking if we ‘specialise’ in a given sector. We have been privileged to work with a wide range of businesses and each time we take on an account we research their sector to provide us with the greatest understanding possible.

Take the Coalfields Regeneration Trust as an example, or Nigel Tooby photography, I hadn’t worked with a charity that focuses on coalfields communities before and despite coincidentally living in a former mining village, wasn’t aware of the work the organisation was involved with. Similarly I am not a contemporary art enthusiast so had no background about Nigel or his exhibitions.

We still work with both clients and secure results every month for them. The fact that we didn’t specialise in their particular market hasn’t in anyway had a negative effect on our activity, in fact the truth is that we are specialists in them – not their sectors per se.

And that is what I think is important.

Of course you need to have some understanding of the markets that you are working in but what is absolutely essential when you support a brand as a communications expert is to know them inside and out.

Sharing their messaging and values is what we are tasked to do in order to support and build their reputation and that is why we always reiterate that we work as an extension of our clients teams, without this approach it would be impossible.

Like most agencies we surround ourselves with market news that is relevant to our clients, subscribing to RSS feeds, google alerts, trade magazines and media monitoring tools to ensure we are up to date with any changes in policy or breaking announcements.

Some agencies argue that to be sector specific means that you can draft copy which is more technical, using terminology that is relevant to the industry but as communications experts it is our job to learn that. It is no different to adapting to a house style or pitching to a new publication – you do your research and get on with it.

Having worked in the PR sector for years, there is no doubt that we use previous experiences to our advantage but my argument is always the same – we specialise in PR and we specialise in our clients, which therefore makes us specialists, whatever sector you work in.

So the next time someone asks me if we specialise, I will be giving them a very simple answer, yes!