It would be fair to assume that big brands won’t work with a small PR agency from Yorkshire, but that isn’t the case. We have worked with some of the largest businesses in the country to deliver campaigns and have achieved some incredible results.
Big isn’t always beautiful
Having worked for big agencies before starting Open Comms, I know that big isn’t always beautiful. What goes on behind the scenes isn’t always what a client would expect. Of course, this could be said for any sized agency, it isn’t exclusive to the big ones. It is however only relevant if the practices that are encouraged challenge the values of the business and its employees.
We have worked alongside many large agencies when working with big brands and some of them are fantastic. In fact, some of the best work we have produced has been as a result of getting our heads together with others. We don’t pretend to have all the answers, working collaboratively can be a massive benefit. What we have found is that it’s less about size and more about experience.
As an agency that is completely transparent, our clients always know what we are working on, what tactics we will use to deliver results and how much a campaign will cost. They will also be aware of any mark-up that we are making.
Big brand or SME our values don’t change and the approach we take remains the same. It’s why we have our clients for years and not months.
Furthermore, working in this way means that we can focus on what matters: results. We don’t need to worry about being caught out or not delivering a return on investment. It also means that we can make sure that budgets stretch and that clients have a genuine insight into the costs associated with a campaign.
Same tactics, different narrative
Most agencies will use a very similar toolkit of tactics when they work with big brands. The truth about what differentiates one business from another is experience and personality.
As an industry that seems to rely on impressive terms for repackaged services, let’s take ‘always on’ or ‘brand to hand’ as just two examples, it’s no surprise that some clients struggle to see the wood from the trees.
The narrative we use changes all of the time. It is led by comment and content that is shared. It doesn’t mean that bigger agencies are any better than smaller ones, just that they are more likely to feature within industry press as ‘thought leaders’.
New phrases are added to the agency dictionary every week. It’s not so much about knowing the lingo’ as stepping back and working out what service they relate to.
It starts and stops with hard work
Any agency that wants to deliver for a big brand, whether they are working on a campaign or as a retained partner, needs to roll up their sleeves. PR isn’t easy. It’s about hard work. Finding the right tactics and dialing them up or down (there’s those buzz words again). This can be time consuming.
Results don’t drop into your lap when you work in PR. There is a lot of test and measure. It’s also important to be aware of any new tactics that are coming into the market. When I started there was no such thing as earned and owned content and social was in its infancy.
Things change and so too must the advice and recommendations that we give to the big brands we work with to make sure we deliver against objectives.
White label or white flag!
It’s no surprise that agencies tell fibs from time to time. It’s not something we get involved with, but there are numerous agencies that claim to be ‘full service’ yet outsource to other suppliers.
We have been approached on several occasions to be a white label agency. I’ve always thought this strange given the objective of what we do often focuses on building the profile of a brand. How credible would we be with no visibility?
It would be an odd conversation to have with a client, to explain that we hadn’t seen the benefit in promoting our services. It’s would appear to me to be a white flag rather than a white label.
As a PR agency that has built its reputation up over 12 years, we do work with other agencies from Yorkshire and beyond, but as Open Comms. I question the value to any client that pays an agency that has marked-up the services of a partner rather than passing them on direct.
In our time, we have worked with many of the larger agencies in both Leeds and London. We have been involved with inter-agency days, where brands bring their partners together in one room. It’s a good approach and often leads to the strongest campaigns and best collective ideas.
I’d recommend any brand that works with multiple agencies gets value from bringing them all together. After all, why rely on one PR agency from Yorkshire when you could have five different specialisms in the room?
Taking the ‘risk’
It’s to be expected that big brands will attract the attention of larger agencies and visa versa. That said, it’s important that companies take a calculated risk. What harm is there in adding a smaller agency to a pitch line-up to see what they have to offer. Also, extending the geography. We’ve pitched all over the country and with all that has happened this year, there’s never been a better time to put remote working into practice.
The biggest achievement for me was that in every case these clients saw the value in what we were recommending and the results that we secured. We had an incredible time camping at festivals with POM-BEAR during a summer of activation and launching Yushoi with Louis Smith in London.
We managed the opening of a multi-million-pound, purpose-built factory for Calbee in Wales and welcomed dignitaries from across the region. With KP Snacks we provided insight and recommendations on how to avoid advertising to children. There is certainly never a dull day when you work in PR.
A small PR agency from Yorkshire trusted by big brands
Just because we are a small agency, it didn’t mean that we couldn’t be trusted by these big brands. What it did mean was that the responsibility was on us to be honest. That is something we have always maintained. If we are unable to meet with a client’s objectives, we will let them know.
I’m pleased to report, it’s very rare that we can’t fulfil a brief, and that is why we are looking forward to working with many more big brands in the future. We may be a small agency in Yorkshire, but we are a very capable one!
For further details about Open Comms and how the agency could support your business to reach its ambitions, please email Lindsey at firstname.lastname@example.org or for more details about the many businesses we work with, please visit www.opencomms.co.uk.