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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

When Bigger Clearly Isn't Better

The Internet crash of 2001 triggered a tech recession but was also responsible, ultimately, for the creation of many new small businesses born out of necessity.  Typically, small businesses -- which are often new businesses -- lead the way when it comes to the job creation that follows a recession.

This recession is no different.

Like many professions, public relations saw its fair share of new agencies, small companies, formed in the post-2001 period.  These independent shops were formed by PR pros who were displaced by the firms they worked for.  Many of these were large firms owned by the big holding companies; firms that bulked up during the dot-com mania and then thinned its ranks when the bottom fell out.

Not every new firm survived, of course.  But many did and some ten years later they are prospering or at least are weathering the storm of the current economic downturn and are looking forward to a stronger 2011.

In the recession that allegedly ended in June 2009, big marketing services holding companies once again displaced personnel -- en masse.  Of course, no industry or profession was sacred in this recession.  And, as in the 2001 downturn, the Great Recession of 2008 led to hundreds of spin outs from large PR agencies.

That is, in fact, how 3Point Communications came to be.  In the broadest sense, 3Point is an Omnicom Group spin out.

Ultimately, PR agency customers are the great beneficiaries of all this.

As the recession dust finally settles, the big agencies all are still standing. Some are lighter than they used to be. But many are now spending money to add new services (social, digital), hire specialists (social, digital), acquire specialty companies (social, digital), and expand globally - especially in Asia.  In the meantime, the newer entities are aggressively building their brands, reputations, staffs, developing their unique selling propositions while going head-to-head against the goliaths for the same pieces of business.

That's how the customer benefits.  The dynamics of the new communications landscape forces everyone to get better.  Big agencies are now not only competing with their peer group, but also with hungry, smart startups.  Or is is upstarts? And the startups/upstarts are moving quickly to build ultra competitive-offerings that tells a customer that being bigger isn't as important as faster and reputable service, a high quality and comprehensive offering and industry experience at affordable prices without the overhead.


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