Conflict PR … Is Your Agency Also Representing Your Competitor(s)
One of the most perplexing issues in the PR agency world, especially among small and mid-size firms, is conflict representation, as some agencies represent competitive brands, companies or properties. How can a marketer be sure that the agency is truly focused on his/her brand or property, if the agency also has a vested interest in a competitive brand/company?
Marketers need to start taking notice. This practice is especially common in the travel/golf sector where agencies house resort and destination clients that are direct competitors of each other. You cannot possibly conduct media relations and drive effective publicity for dueling clients. Someone has to come first and someone has to come second. Why would any company or brand want to play second fiddle to their competitors when it comes to their PR investment?
As it relates to creating strategies and driving consistent press coverage, an agency cannot possibly serve two masters battling for the same share of voice. One client is going to get the best ideas, staffers, target media, etc. Just think, your agency is pitching your brand/story to the same media outlet they are pitching your competitor’s brand/story… which flies directly in the face of logic. With the exception of a round-up story, the media outlet will be tasked with picking one brand/story over the other.
And, if they justify the conflict by stating that different staffers work on the accounts, then you should really be concerned. That is because they are telling you it’s one-size-fits-all strategic planning and execution. In contrast, you should want custom strategy and exclusive representation. It’s what you are paying for and there are plenty of agencies who will meet your needs.