Debate About the Value of PR Agencies

Todd Defren’s “PR Squared” post entitled “The Value of PR Agencies, Part II of ???” got me all in a lather – again and is largely a reason, why, after 13 years of being on the agency side of things, I packed in it an decided to go in house.  Recently, there have been a rash of postings from bloggers who openly question the value of public relations if you have a killer product.

And it went on…

Many of the blogosphere’s “luminaries,” or as Jason Falls puts it, guys who “blow smoke up each others’ asses,” got into the fray, including Robert Scoble, Michael Arrington and Steve Rubel.   These admittedly a-list bloggers have built followings that I am assuming have grown organically, thus reinforcing the notion that is you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door.  I have to admit my own ignorance of Messers Scoble, Arrington and Rubel’s professional provenance, but anyone who has toiled within the recesses of a large public relations firm can knock this one out of the park in about thirty seconds.  This is elitist, perhaps wishful thinking.

Here is a quote that I think sums up their point:

Scoble, Rubel and Arrington basically made the point that PR firms are unnecessary if you have a great product and are willing to spend a lot of time engaging in the blogosphere.”

Confession:  I am biased because I sold these services in for more than a decade, and it puts a real burr under my saddle when people wax poetic or romantic about the “next killer app” that will grow organically and not need good public relations strategy or tactical execution.  I can’t tell you how many times I had to justify my existence on this planet on a regular basis or listen to a client tell me a) he/she is cutting my budget, or b) that a good public relations plan is “unnecessary.”

After smiling politely I looked like the guy in the picture above.

But fear not,Todd jumps into the fray with not one but two good defenses of the public relations industry.  In this first post, Why Hire a PR Firm?, instead of laying things, out, he shows video of a client (and that’s who matters, by the way), detailing out why public relations is important:

Mike Volpe, VP Marketing HubSpot – Value of PR Firms

But as so many things do in the blogosphere, this one kept coming back like a bad meal, or one of the zombies in Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video.

Then Todd came back with a wonderful, succinct response from yet another client about the value of public relations agencies:

Samantha Stone, VP Marketing, Dataupia – Value of a PR Firm

As usual, when others say it better than I can, I don’t have a lot to add, except a suggestion that anyone who thinks that a well-planned, intelligently executed public relations (or marketing public relations) plan is superfluous for a killer app, ask either:

  1. someone who has worked in a public relations agency and see a client’s (or more likely, potential client’s) product die on the vine for lack of effective public relations; or
  2. anyone out there who is sitting on the next Twitter who can’t get exposure.

‘Nuff said.



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