The largest PR firms are big for a reason. But in yesterday’s Cision webinar, consultancy and small PR agency founders Jason Nisse and Lizzie Earl argued that smaller agencies are primed to disrupt the industry.
Factors like brand and marketing clout and the perception among some companies that it’s “safer” to select big agencies still count in their favour.
But since leaving Newgate Communications to start The Nisse Consultancy, Nisse says he has found plenty of opportunities.
“I’ve seen both sides, so I feel I have some kind of insight into what’s going on in the market,” he said. “When people go out looking for an agency, they are looking for expertise. With a niche industry, what you see is what you get.”
“You can be much more of a handpicked team at a smaller agency,” agreed Earl, who founded Munch 12 months ago. “We’re just nimble in a way that I don’t think a bigger agency could be.”
The opportunity for niche consultancies
Nisse gave the example of a listed company with a large financial firm handling its comms, but a niche agency providing crisis support.
By carving out crisis comms and handing it to a smaller firm, this company is able to benefit from the greater attention and faster response times niche practitioners can often deliver – in an area where it needs them most.
He argued that larger agencies must be open to this kind of partnership to deliver more sophisticated services to clients, especially when they are being squeezed elsewhere by competition from ad agencies.
“Since I started out, what I’ve been most surprised with is the collaborative nature of the other niche agencies out there,” he said. “[Large agencies] should look to us to see how we can work together.”
Small agencies should be proud to be different
Earl opened her presentation by sharing how Munch snapped its client Music Crowns from the jaws of a larger agency that had promised a double-page spread in The Sun.
“We didn’t try to compete like for like,” she said. “We knew what we needed to do for this project and we weren’t afraid of doing something different.”
By tailoring a campaign that contributed directly to Music Crowns’ business objectives, Munch doubled the brand’s web traffic and launched artist Daisy Clark’s career by helping her knock Ed Sheeran off the top of the iTunes charts.
Positioning itself as a boutique agency that delivers results helped Munch outshine its more established competition – and you can discover more about how she did it in this exclusive Cision white paper.
Are niche consultancies disrupting the PR industry?
In this recent opinion piece, Nisse argued that big agencies are like luxury hotels, while many clients would prefer something more like Airbnb. He believes small firms are best placed to provide bespoke, highly specialised services.
“We can be a lot more entrepreneurial with our pricing,” he added yesterday. “I do a lot of campaigns where the fee is weighted to the success of the campaign.”