David v. Goliath: Why Small Agencies Outperform Large Agencies

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Imagine you are at a dinner party. You know some of the people and others are familiar faces. As you munch on shrimp fritters and sip chardonnay, the conversation turns to interests and hobbies that range from playing an instrument to video games and from swimming to CrossFit. Most have something to share and are mediocre at best– except for the three superstars who insist that they do all of the above equally well. But you have doubts. Their responses are canned and it’s unlikely that they are experts in all things, all the time. A Chinese menu of hobbies: Is it realistic that they can be exceptional in each field?

No. And that’s why large public relations agencies – or one-size-fits-all approaches – are missing the boat. Unsure? Here’s why:

As Large Agencies Dive…

Multinational public relations agencies that once ruled the industry are like the humblebrag people at your dinner party – passé. Big agency proposals are often pre-packaged in an assembly line that neither fits the changing media landscape nor meets the clients individualized needs. The communications tactics are as diverse as a chicken dinner at a wedding. As a client, you begin to wonder how many times can an agency repurpose a media list for a completely unrelated campaign? Then you realize, who and what made the agency’s stellar reputation is no longer there.

Small Agencies Thrive

Boutique agencies have been stealing the spotlight in PR. Competition among peer companies is fiercer than ever, and each business needs ideas that set them apart from the others. That is how smaller agencies stay nimble and deliver. Small agencies are judicious with their work and genuinely take interest in the client’s field. Tailored, hand-crafted content meets the campaign needs. This leaves no room for bureaucracy, bottlenecks or backlogs. Lean teams without hierarchical structures provide transparency and are impressive to watch and exciting to be a part of it.

Where Does Talent Fall

Talent also makes all the difference for agencies—big or small. Post-graduation, many PR enthusiasts flock to the large agencies, hoping to secure a well-known industry stalwart on their resume. After three months as an account coordinator or assistant account executive, young professionals find themselves doing endless media scans on clients they are not interested in – and it shows. Why would you pay for mediocre work done by dispassionate people?

Small Boat, Big Fish

Ask any sport fisherman, you don’t need an ocean liner to reel in the big fish. But you do need a smart team. And Silverline is just that. We celebrate fresh ideas and cultivate young talent. We’re passionate about our clients’ work and believe in what we do. Anything less isn’t invited to the party.

“Is everyone on the line?”

Conference calls are crowded, media lists are more exhausting than exhaustive and there is a lot of, “well, I haven’t reviewed the materials yet, but here are my two cents,” happening at other agencies. Not the nimble, but full-service teams. Small structure also comes accountability, not just towards our clients but also for each other. At Silverline, even if a team member is stuck on another call, someone else can easily jump in knowing what is going on with the client and what the call is about. There are no firewalls, as teams thrive on transparency.