Tim has a great post on the multitude of start-ups with $10,000 to spend on a PR agency. OK, I'm one of them. It just seemed like such a nice round number to start with. Somehow it's crept-up a little bit though... Must fix that...
Tim is right (he is right on most things)... we all want PR pros. But I don't want $15,000 dollars worth of service. I don't even know what that is!
I want results. I don't care what it costs or whether an agency has to under or over service to deliver it. I just want results against the agreed budget. You commit, I commit, we all commit together.
What is more troubling to me as a Valley CMO is:
1) finding a great agency is bloody hard work. They are few and far between. At any billing rate. Few CMOs I know get the value of PR or AR, let alone the value of a good agency... I accept we are part of the problem, but...
2) finding an agency that gets your business and has a real enthusiasm for contributing to the growth of the business - harder still
3) finding an agency that understands that great ideas get funded - near impossible. They are caught in the conundrum or belief that ideas require budget prior to being generated. Bullshit. (and I am talking about real ideas, not those regurgitated from the last pitch)
4) finding a team that can explain why they should get paid more and then associate some kind of outcome with the result - well, if you find them, let me know. The most common justification - "we've been over servicing your business for six months now, you need to pay us more" - is nuts. Nuts!
5) finding an agency - the word is a bit of an oxymoron. It implies some kind of powerhouse of ideas and execution - the strength of a team. What you generally end-up funding is one very dedicated individual surrounded by some other folks - generally you aren't quite sure what they are doing but they all arrive for meetings and scribble madly into notebooks.
What is needed is a new kind of agency. One not built on billable hours and 10k budgets. Maybe one built on the power of ideas to drive a startup's growth curve? One with the courage and conviction to articulate a value proposition that resonates with the CMO of a start-up and ability to explain what the budget should be.
You see, we live less in the conceptual world of brand and reputation and more in the real world of qualified opportunities, pipeline growth and time to sale.
Until then, 10k sounds like a nice round number to start with. Agencies shouldn't let it end there. We will pay more. And I am willing to put my money where my mouth is.