Flash Report @ AgencyFinder – October 31, 2007
1. Agency New Business Rating System
2. Best Practices – Agency Search Agreements
3. Top 10 Lies PR Firms Tell Their Clients
AGENCY NEW BUSINESS RATING SYSTEM
What’s your score? What’s your rank? What does this mean to an advertiser? More specifically, what’s your AgencyFinder (AF) Power Index (API)? And what does it mean?
The number itself can be found in multiple locations. It’s on your Authorized Agency Confidential Report #13 at: www.agencyfinder.com/agencies/secure/ It’s on the Authorized Agency Client Version Report #14 at the same link. It’s on the client’s green cell spreadsheet display at the End of Database Search; it’s contained in the pop-up reports adjacent to that green cell display; and finally, it’s on the Authorized Agency Report we provide to clients as they begin final selections (that’s the client version of what you see at #14).
It’s been a long time coming (first announced to agencies in early 2005), but it’s in response to client requests for a tool to make some early, but well-founded cuts to the candidate list. Taking our direction from client survey results and a blue-ribbon panel, we created a real-time algorithm that scores and ranks each agency in the database.
In a nutshell, a Perfect Score = 100. This API algorithm reflects the completeness of the agency data file while not discriminating between large, mid-size and small agencies with regard to capitalized billings, employee counts, number of offices, etc. Missing data, missing or incomplete essays and case histories are subtractive. The algorithm also reflects the agency’s historical record on invitation responsiveness, process compliance and fiscal responsibility. The algorithm makes no representation as to agency creative capabilities or the potential for “great chemistry.”
Read about it at: http://www.agencyfinder.com/power2-index.shtml There’s still time to make positive revisions to improve your score.
BEST PRACTICES – AGENCY SEARCH AGREEMENTS
A recently published AAAA position paper has introduced an interesting concept that agencies are probably rooting for; whether clients are as receptive remains to be seen. The paper contains the language “The AAAA recommends that member agencies execute new business agreements with client prospects at the beginning of every agency search.” The portion that is both interesting, and some say far-reaching, is that portion titled “Reimbursement Covering Agency Participation and Expenses.” The text continues: “In advance of participating in a marketer search, agencies and the marketer should agree on what level of remuneration will be paid to the agency for participating in the review, as well as what costs of participation in the search will be reimbursed. Advertiser payment to agencies should specify that payment is solely intended to offset agency cost of participation in the review and does not alter the agency’s ownership of agency-developed presentation concepts and materials.” The paper is in the New Business Tool Kit at: http://www.aaaagencysearch.com/
Most would agree that no agency should be expected to produce speculative creative unless there is compensation. But the challenge there is to set a level of remuneration to actually compensate for the value of the work. Sample agreement language also stipulates “to reimburse our actual direct out-of-pocket (travel, research, production, etc.) costs associated with these activities …”
How much would an agency declare to be “out-of-pocket?” If one contender were to conduct extensive market research and bill it through, but another already had the data and didn’t, is the first entitled to reimbursement? How about this – since it’s not uncommon for agencies to hire third-party new business consultants to help prepare and assemble the pitch itself, yet that consultant won’t be around later to work the account, is that expense covered? Would a competing agency divulge all their new business weapons and show the extent of their “outsourcing” and then ask to get paid for using them?
We’ll test the waters going forward to see what clients and agencies are thinking. What’s your input?
P.S. – Where did this concept originate? What other industry contenders get reimbursed?
TOP 10 LIES PR FIRMS TELL THEIR CLIENTS
Our registered business friend Steve Blinn at BlinnPR recently posted the following at his blog. With his permission, and for our other pr agencies, hope you enjoy.
“Doing any sort of business requires the spewing of some polite falsehoods to lubricate the wheels of commerce. But there are fabrications that are particular to the PR business. You see them lurking, again and again, in the latest cut and paste press release announcing a new client win. You read them on agency blogs or hear about them from disillusioned clients.
And now, here they are, neatly organized into a list that will help you and your company spot the most common PR ploys.
1. “This is such a terrific product/service!
Part of public relations is managing clients’ expectations. Not all products and services are newsworthy; some will appeal only to a niche market. Others are entering a market that’s already over-saturated. But many agencies are scared of telling their clients the truth, fearing they’ll lose the business. Instead of functioning as a strategic advisor, they act like an over-eager suitor on a first date.
2. “Your account is in the best possible hands…”
PR firms often bring their best, brightest and most articulate stars to the pitch and imply that this is the talent working on an account that bills $3-5K per month (at most). How many times have you heard that senior staff will be pitching the media on your behalf? Meanwhile, back in the real world, a junior account exec, or one with limited experience, is handling your account and has no idea about your company or technology.
3. “Our agency has deep experience with technology companies like yours.”
Never mind the fact that likely 90%+ of that collective experience no longer works at the agency, having long ago moved on to competing agencies or retired/passed away.
4. “We’re doing all that we are supposed to do.
“Often an agency will tell a client, well after the agreement is signed and months into the
assignment, that something can’t be done because it’s beyond the scope of work. For example, the agency won’t pitch speaking opportunities because it’s “beyond the scope of work.” Nonsense — getting media attention for a client through any possible, valuable venue is the job, period.
5. “We know Web 2.0”
More and more PR firms are offering clients help with podcasts, promoting and writing blogs and writing social media releases carefully optimized to ride high in search engine results. That’s great, assuming the agency has real expertise. There are plenty of blogs that were guaranteed to “ramp up your SEO” that remain languishing, unread in the backwaters of the Internet. And you can podcast until you’re blue in the face without seeing any improvement in your site’s page rank. Run away fast from any agency that suggests Twitter or a social network can magically solve all of your PR problems.
6. We have great relationships with (insert high profile reporters’ names here)”
I’m dumbfounded when prospects want me to drop names of reporters I know—as my list of business connections really means nothing for the client. Reporters know a lot of PR people, and vice-versa. But whether a reporter likes a PR rep or not, they aren’t going to write a story that isn’t interesting to their readers. In any case, it’s far better to find the right reporters to tell an interesting story to the right readers than to keep pitching a small group of elite reporters.
7. “We have affiliate offices all over the world.”
Not a lie, exactly — assuming they aren’t counting their freelancers’ apartments as satellite offices. The falsehood is the implication that this matters to the prospect. In reality, lots of dots on the map that’s proudly displayed on an “About Us” page doesn’t mean squat unless there is a need or purpose. How will a branch office in Barcelona or Budapest serve your business?
8. “We offer highly-targeted strategic public relations.”
When in fact they just routinely blast out press releases via e-mail, with the hope that something will stick, and reporters know to automatically delete the latest gibberish from ABC agency because they never send anything useful or interesting. Here’s a tip. Ask exactly who the agency is pitching. A small, well-selected list of reporters is far better than sending a release or pitch to a huge mailing list comprised of every reporter that anyone in the agency knows, has heard of, or thinks may probably exist.
9. “We do a great job taking advantage of the news cycle.”
Certainly getting your client’s comments out on the topic du jour is a good thing, but it’s far more important to think outside the box and make the news. Coming up with creative pitches is more difficult than riding the news wave, so many agencies convince clients that a quote embedded in a few stories about the crisis of the moment is great PR. In reality, it’s a small part of what an agency should be doing.
10. “It’s not our fault. Your product/service just isn’t all that compelling.”
The biggest falsehood agencies foist upon clients is that poor PR performance is largely the client’s fault. The truth is that there are many minimally talented people in the PR business who send poorly written press releases via unsolicited email blasts and annoy journalists with a steady stream of boring, predictable crap. If the agency didn’t tell you your product was a tough sell at the beginning of your relationship, they shouldn’t tell you that after their campaign fails.”
Charles G. Meyst, Chairman/CEO
Business Partnering International, Ltd.
Vantage Place, 4327 Cox Road
Glen Allen, VA 23060