What do football coaches and agencies have in common? They are hired to be fired.
For every Joe Paterno-Penn State or GolinHarris-McDonald’s relationship, there are thousands of coaches and agencies creating winning strategies on the sidelines for a season or two, only to be shown the door under new athletic directors or marketing directors.
There are two reasons I mention this.
First, marketers in an organization have one of two objectives: get promoted to build their resumes and move on, or protect their annual budgets and stay in place. The former look for agencies and in-house colleagues to execute (achieve a short-term success!); the latter to provide creative and help them evolve within the company … and to execute (replace the agency!).
Second, the truth is that a Fortune 500 company can’t go wrong hiring any big agency – good resources, access to secondary research, connected media databases (in some cases), good ideas and execution. No company CMO, PR or marketing director will be fired for bringing in a name-brand agency. In fact, shareholders, raised on pro sports, expect it: If you’re not hiring a multi-office conglomerate, then you’re not trying!
Big agencies are a safe choice for big companies. But are they the best one for everyone else?
In my 20 years as a communications and PR professional working at top-5 agencies and Fortune 500 companies, I’ve worked closely with dozens of colleagues who are now thriving as solo practitioners, delivering great strategy and execution at a fraction of the cost of big agency budgets.
And as of last fall, I am one of them: I’m forging along my own Freedom Trail as an independent communications professional.
I’m offering my services as a Communications Director For Hire, a 30-50-hour-a-month addition to your marketing department who can provide leadership and experience to your full-time PR and social media team and strategic counsel to your executive and marketing leaders. On a per annum basis, bringing in part-time consultants to round out your full-time staff is like adding a senior PR director at a junior staff salary.
Because “everything about your brand communicates,” I can help your organization discover how your consumers, trade, retailers and other key audiences are learning about your brand, and help your internal team effectively hone and deliver the right messages that are easy for your advocates to share.
What I offer you – and what’s compelling about me – are the five freedoms that come with being an independent professional.
- Freedom to focus smartly. When I worked on the agency side, delivering profits for our shareholders was job one. Today, I’m excited to be back in the problem-solving business. Most independent professionals focus on “balancing the workload” – fewer clients, meaningful work.
- Freedom to think collaboratively. No, I’m not going to suggest you must work with “our Chicago office” or “our digital team.” I’m proud to have met some of the best people in marketing who have started their own small firms or work independently now. I can bring my clients the media pitchers, SEO experts, and creatives whom I trust wholeheartedly and, in some cases, have always have wanted to partner with!
- Freedom to grow expeditiously. Particularly for a mid-sized company, you simply get More, Better, Smarter, Faster, Dedicated, One-On-One, Committed, etc., for the investment … and a part-time relationship that can turn into a long-term business partnership. Because I offer “full-service thinking, self-service overhead,” you will get one-on-one service and honest counsel from me.
- Freedom to share enthusiastically. Between Twitter, active bloggers and other social media pros, independent PR pros are more connected than ever before. Research notes and ideas are discovered routed quickly overnight among #solopr followers. The benefit is that the playing field has been leveled – whether working from a home office in Long Beach, Long Island, or Long Lake, virtual teams sharing best practices and expertise are the future of the communications consultancies. That future is now.
- Freedom to experiment creatively. We all know it: Not everything is going to work. But for the modest costs of hiring a smaller, dedicated professional – roughly two-fifths the cost of a national firm – you can afford the opportunity to experiment with non-traditional programs. A colleague tells me the story of spending some $25,000 on a celebrity seeding program. Was it a good gamble for them? (OK, probably not.) The savings on professional fees allowed them to attempt this and other programs that could break through.
Finally, I offer the freedom to work together with you no matter your company’s address. And I call Long Beach home, which gives me the freedom to move about any Southern California county on a couple hours notice.