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

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, 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. In addition, he is a regular columnist for Dan published the best of his columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. You want the PR Spin Of The Year?
    Chuck McBride loses Addidas to 180, Chiat/SF is decimated, enormous staff cutbacks ensue.
    What’s the story?
    Chuck McBride, putter-togetherer of creative supergroup leaves the protective womb of Chiat to Strike Out On His Own! What a cheeky scamp!
    And all you advertisin’ website chumps went along for the ride.
    You know, like, you and adweek and and adage.

  2. Dean,
    I doubt Chuck “McBlood” found our coverage of his video stunt sycophantic.

  3. I’ve given this some thought based on the two examples you’ve given: Goodby and CPB.
    While CPB are clearly masters of creating press, are they actually good at PR? Who doesn’t read the latest press release about everything from subpar work (Orville Redenbacher) to account status (“resigning” Miller) with a skeptical eye?
    Goodby, on the other hand, has won Interactive Agency of the Year, spun losing Saturn into getting invited to a pitch worth three times as much, and is poised to win Sprint worth 1.2 bil. But I doubt anyone cries “bullshit” when they talk about stuff.
    Know why? They put the work out there, without spinning it for the most part. They just do great stuff and it gets put out.
    CPB spins every single piece they do into some revolutionary/social currency/marketing 3.0 speak bullshit. They also do way more good work than most places, but it’s the way they do PR that is, in my mind, affecting the backlash.
    My $.02.