Opinion: The benefits of independent PR networks
When kicking off a new international PR campaign, how do brands make sure they choose the right agency? From the breadth of services provided, to the number of territories covered and the agency’s sector expertise, there’s a huge amount to take into consideration.
More often than not, choosing the most suitable agency comes down to a key decision: does the brand go with a multinational PR corporation with wholly owned offices in each country, or a PR network made up of independent agencies?
There are pros and cons to both, but it can be hard for brands to recognise the key differentiators when enduring a barrage of pitches. The easy decision is to choose the one-stop-shop of the large PR agency, but that overlooks the benefits that independence brings. So, to make things easier, here are a few reasons why I believe independent PR networks are the way forward.
Best of the best
The most compelling reason for hiring an agency with an independent network is that it gives clients a greater degree of flexibility. Rather than having to fit into a generic global template, a client gets access to best of breed agencies that suit their specific needs – whether that’s specialised skills or in-depth sector knowledge. This gives them access to people who are able to adapt and drive a local strategy.
Choosing independent agencies allows you to choose the right local team for your particular campaign. In the niche B2B sectors in which we operate, we need the local agency to know the storylines, influencers and channels that will be most effective in their region. This knowledge then feeds into the global campaign, providing a rich layer of strategy and insight rather than just on the ground execution.
Independent networks also allow clients the flexibility to switch local agencies on and off as needed. Campaigns can quickly be scaled up and down around particular launches or events to provide better value and integration.
The key to success in independent agency networks is the familiarity and working practices of each network member. With one lead agency owning the global strategy, it is critical that best practices are agreed and shared. The hub agency also takes the weight of management, coordination and reporting off the client’s shoulders – saving time and a lot of stress.
And an added benefit is that there are often less politics in the system. Network agencies aren’t fighting to justify their existence, they’re just working towards one goal – getting the best results for the client.
Part of something bigger
But it’s not all about the clients. Being part of an independent network can also offer plenty of benefits to the agencies themselves.
By being part of a wider association, agencies get to compete for broader international work that they might not otherwise attract, adding value through local knowledge and expertise. They can also share best practice, take advantage of a wider pool of ideas and work on interesting, larger-scale projects.
Ultimately, the success of any independent network relies on having a lead agency that is able to choose the right partners and manage the whole process efficiently. With the right approach, clients get world-class campaigns without the stress and risk of selecting local agencies. And the agencies get rich international experience and access to a new group of clients.
That sounds like a win-win to me.
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