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July 16th, 2010

Adapt or Die: RLM Goes Global

As RLM approaches our 20th birthday—in March, so send cards—we have gained lessons that have brought us through many hard times, but one is particularly salient in today’s business landscape:

ADAPT OR DIE.

PR changes so fast and furiously that it’s not even PR anymore. It’s content building.

Our fundamental approach to PR has always been about delivering results that impact a company’s bottom line. Whether a brand has been around 10 days or 10 years, communication for the sake of it is a luxury we no longer have. More companies—big and small—are taking a hard look at their PR spend and asking the most salient and fundamental question: What value am I getting from PR?

At the same time, it’s fascinating that companies are taking a more holistic view of audiences and influencers, understanding that as the definition of media has fundamentally changed. Effective brand builders and marketers must look at business drivers beyond the list on page 52 of “Marketing 101.”

More companies than ever are skeptical about the value of paying Bursedelfleischhillketchshand, Inc. six figures annually, and so we’ve examined how we can adjust our offerings to meet their needs. As we did this, two things became clear:

In our increasingly virtual world, the importance and value of offering services outside the U.S. has increased big time. Whether based in Brighton or Brisbane or Baton Rouge, some portion of every company’s influencer and customer base is likely global.

Also, while big brands will always be big, small businesses are grabbing an increasingly powerful role.  As our CEO Richard Laermer pointed out in his fun book Punk Marketing, big boy brands are also trying to mimic their smaller brethren to connect directly and personally with their audiences, who often hate them for their bigness. And through this, small businesses themselves have become both a crucial audience and drivers of products and services that have the potential to truly benefit from PR. After all, they have the stories to tell.

Because we’re smart enough to know what we don’t know, RLM didn’t set about opening offices in every country on the planet. We know firsthand the pitfalls of this model, from siloed communications to padded bills. Instead, we set about identifying our counterparts in different countries, agencies that share our passion for PR and our core philosophy.

And we found some amazing partners. Two of them we want to introduce you to: Voice Communications in the UK and CP Communications in Australia.

We are not announcing some big formal network like the hyphenate-firms do because we see that as a sure path to joining their ranks…and that’s not what or where we wish to be. Rather, this affiliation is a collaboration on behalf of clients will bring in real, on-the-ground expertise.

Instead of “paper” partnerships (you know the type: Hey, let’s say we work together and see what we can get), this is real.

Before you read the articles on our partners, let us promote something. (Note: RLM rarely uses this eight-year-old newsletter to talk about ourselves. So give us this day.)

What’s the topic? We are often asked how RLM is different from other agencies.

Value: To be clear, we’re not necessarily cheaper than others. We offer value. We do not waste clients’ money on inflated overheads. We don’t mark up expenses. We don’t have armies of junior folks representing client brands. We deliver measurable value. Every agency will tell you that only senior people will service your account. In most cases, that’s not true, because junior people are more profitable. But we don’t have junior people in the back room or anywhere else.  Actually, since we moved in May, we don’t have a back room anymore!

Accountability: Because we are an independent agency—one of the last in the nation—we don’t answer to a board or shareholders or a holding company with a proud history making shopping carts. We answer to our clients—and only our clients. None of our clients have iron-clad year-long contracts; instead, we have agreements that provide the flexibility to let us do what works and abandon what doesn’t.  That is our motto. See? Abandon can be a good word.

Service—and Services: As a smaller agency, RLM has a right and reason to over-service and over deliver on accounts, and we do it with pride. We provide the whole range of communication services, from Twitter feeds and blog commenting to TV spots and newspaper inches, custom designed to fit your needs.

Who are you? You’re the tinyish firm looking to grow quickly or a big one whose stakeholders need value from PR. We’ll tell you—get a bunch of us and a host of ideas—what we can do for you.

We look forward to hearing from you.

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