PR: The Secret Weapon Of Admired Ad Agencies

I’ve often said that when it comes to marketing themselves, ad agencies are usually clueless and pathetically bad at it. A couple of recent stories have enlightened me as to how some agencies ensure that they maintain the reputations they have.
When Adweek selected Goodby its 2006 Agency of the Year, Adweek devoted much of its article to Goodby’s own determination to remake itself for the digital age:

The agency hired a PR company, named an internal communications strategist, revamped its Web site and crystallized its mantra, “art serving capitalism.” However, it wasn’t just the industry at large that needed to take a closer look at the agency’s creative output, noted [Managing Partner Derek] Robson, but the agency itself.

Then there’s this week’s story in Ad Age which looks at Crispin’s split with the Miller Lite account:

When Crispin Porter & Bogusky President Jeff Hicks called Miller’s CMO Randy Ransom to quit the brewer’s advertising account last week, a surprised Mr. Ransom tried to talk the agency president out of resigning. “Is there anything we can do to stop this?” he asked. Mr. Hicks replied that he’d already issued a press release.

So it seems that even if you do work at the level that Goodby and Crispin do, it’s incumbent upon you to promote your work and your agency through public relations efforts to spin stories your way.
Does your ad agency have a PR plan? Don’t give me that “We’re so busy, you know, the cobbler’s children have no shoes” bullshit. If Jeff Goodby and Jeff Hicks can put a high premium on agency self-promotion, when they’re seemingly the last ones who would need to, then other agencies should, too. That’s how the game is played. Perception is reality, you know.

About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for TalentZoo.com and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.