Fuel Agency Growth: Act The Size You Want To Be

Do you want to fuel agency growth for your small-to-midsized PR firm? since you’re reading this blog, I’m guessing the answer is “yes.”

But have you ever said the following: “We’re too small to:

…get our clients to measure our results in a more meaningful way.”

…ask our clients to pay for our strategic thinking.”

…implement staff training.”

…hire a social media specialist.”

Agency leaders can implement the aforementioned steps–or not–but don’t let your current size prevent you from doing so.  Perpetually thinking like a small agency will only keep you where you are.

But acting like an owner of the agency the size you want yours to be–in one, three, or five years–is a proven method to get you there, and faster.

Here are five steps you can take to accelerate your agency’s growth:

1)  Carefully observe the agencies you admire that are larger than yours. Learn all you can about their employee attraction and retention plans, including benefits, morale-builders and rewards, and think about how you can apply these to your own firm. Pay particular attention to how you can motivate staff and build their loyalty in non-monetary ways.

2)  Vow that this is the year to get ahead of your clients on issues like measurement and evaluation, effectively using social media, and designing truly integrated campaigns.  Hire the most senior PR staffers that you can possibly afford.  Having PR pros who can grow your business and counsel the C-suite is one of the best investments you can make in your business. And if you can hire execs who are smarter than you, so much the better.

3)  Stop doing, start leading: Many small agency leaders find growing their agencies challenging, because they’re still spending too much time in PR execution. But while there are others at your firm who can “do,” yours is probably the only one whose job description includes looking to the future, creating the agency vision, and persuading your followers to help you achieve it. That’s job #1, and doing it is the most important action you can take to make your agency the one you envision.

4)  Train, train, train: Competing effectively with agencies your size, and potentially larger ones, requires a team of individuals who are at the very top of their games. Professional development, whether via a formal agency training program, individual workshops, brown bag lunch ‘n learns, external sessions, or a combination thereof, will help fuel your growth.  For more thoughts on training, please click here:  Training, not optional

5) Reach out to the owners of the agencies in tip one.   Ask them to share what they would have done differently, if they “knew then what they know now.”   Owners of PR firms are a supportive lot, and you may be surprised how much they’ll be willing to share with you.

Having trouble finding time for new business?  Please click here for some suggestions:  Find time for new business

Ken Jacobs

I’m the principal of Jacobs Communications Consulting, which helps public relations and communications agencies and organizations grow and manage business, and enhance staff performance, leadership and communications skills.We do so via consulting, training, and coaching. To learn more, please click on the “Jacobs Communications Consulting” tab on the top.

17 comments
EricaAllison
EricaAllison

So, I just "met" you over at @ginidietrich 's blog as her illustrious #FF mention and I'm glad I did! What a timely post for me! I love the tips and lately have been focusing on acting larger than I am and as Gini mentioned below, gathering my "troops" together to get larger jobs done and win larger accounts. So far, it's working and it's freeing me up to focus on the road ahead instead of the task of the moment. I'll be back, Ken Jacobs... so nice to meet you!

MimiMeredith
MimiMeredith

Ken, I think these steps can convey to any business sector, the thing I love and miss about the PR Industry is the collegial atmosphere that make tips one and five possible.

Lore McManus Solo
Lore McManus Solo

Some of these great strategies our agency does; some we forget about even though we know better. Thanks for an excellent summary and reminder that as FranklinCovey teaches, "execution matters".

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

I am infamous for behaving this way. To the point that, if a prospect really cares about our number of employees, I'll include freelancers and all of our consultants in the count. After all, we're paying them. They're just not FT employees. It's all about the vision. If you want to achieve something, you have to act like you can get there.

KensViews
KensViews

Thanks @EricaAllison I'm delighted you found that post of value, and hope you'll subscribe. And I guess that means I must thank @ginidietrich . Again. Dang. She's going to be impossible now. I'm expecting voicemail messages that say "Hi, it's GiniD. Remember that day I presented you to all my followers? Well it's me. Call me back. Within five minutes, if you know what's good for you!"

KensViews
KensViews

@MimiMeredith Are you saying you used to be in PR and miss that level of collegiality, or that we've lost that in the industry? If the former, come back to PR! If the latter, I can report that that kind of generous interchange takes place frequently within Counselors Academy. An additional option is for a practitioner to get more involved in his/her local PRSA chapter, which most likely attracts agencies of all sizes. I've observed that so long as the info requested isn't directly competitive, as in an account pitch, PR folks are usually willing to share generously Of course if you want to get, you've got to be willing to give.

KensViews
KensViews

@Lore McManus Solo Thanks, Lore. I think you captured an important point. We all may know much; the victory--and the growth--is in the doing.

KensViews
KensViews

@ginidietrich Add that to the list of things for which you're famous! This kind of vision takes guts, but I've seen it work, When I was at Marina Maher Communications, we implemented a training program, hired a media director and offered a generous benefit program when other agencies of our size did not. I'm convinced that this approach played a role in our rapid growth.

MimiMeredith
MimiMeredith

@KensViews Zounds! I need to be more careful about how I express myself :)! I meant I miss the industry...for all the reasons you mention, especially the collegial atmosphere of counselor's academy.

MimiMeredith
MimiMeredith

@KensViews For 20 years! I owned my own firm for four years, and I loved what you recommended in this post!

KensViews
KensViews

@MimiMeredith Well it was either one or the other. I didn't realize you were in PR, but I can definitely see that. Must check out your bio on your website!

MimiMeredith
MimiMeredith

I don't think she teases about those things! When you're COO, be sure to budget for lots of leadership, relationship-building and civility training!!

KensViews
KensViews

@ginidietrich Sure, tease me with the one full-time job I'd actually enjoy doing other than working for myself! :)

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@KensViews I'd rather be infamous than famous. And why don't you come be COO of Arment Dietrich? How's a move to Chicago sound?