Navigating the agency minefield

Phew. Heaven help clients trying to navigate their way around our market. Consider this. Tetra, a public affairs and government relations agency has recently announced that it is moving into PR via new “dedicated corporate and digital practices”. They’re going to be joining Portland, Hanover and Open Road (all best known for their public affairs capabilities) who have all announced that they too are moving into corporate affairs.

Meanwhile, PR agencies are moving in the opposite direction, witness Blue Rubicon setting upThirty Six Strategy, which aims to establish a “political campaigning arm targeting corporate brands”.  This is in addition to its new consumer offshoot, to be called Surname & Surname, which is “attempting to occupy the middle ground between creative ideas agencies and strategic powerhouses”.

You’d probably have already bracketed Pelham Bell Pottinger as a strategic powerhouse. But they’ve felt the need to launch a “strategic advisory committee comprising senior business figures, including former Wall Street Journal Europe editor Baroness Patience Wheatcroft”.

So far so good. Agencies setting up dedicated offshoots that offer specialist services or target specific audiences is clearly where the market is heading. But wait a minute.  Didn’t Porter Novelli earlier this year set up a new integrated team called C&W Political Counsel that aims to “provide a PA service integrated with the agency’s corporate and consumer divisions”?

Far be it for me to point out that Keene has been offering integrated public affairs and public relations for over 25 years now. But it is good to see agencies constantly adapting (‘morphing’?) in response to their clients’ requirements.

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