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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

In today's era of Communication, Is the Clients' fascination with Multiple Offices justified?

We are living in an era where communication methods are evolving on a daily basis. If I tell today's generation, that to get a telephone connection one had to apply and wait for years together then they would probably take me for a mentally deranged person. Yet I remember the 70's and 80's when telephone was a luxury and one gave a neighbours number as a p.p. number to be contacted in an emergency. When I bought a Fax machine in 1992 most of the people were unaware of such a contraption.

90's bought the era of internet and e-mails, I actually had an incident when a pretty neighbour of ours walked into my office and pointing to the Fax machine asked is this the e-mail :). Yet today we take this all for granted such has been the progress of technology in the field of communication. We no longer need physical presence we are available 24x7 over mobile phones/email/messengers.

One would have thought that with so much advancement in Communication and with support from the Aviation sector in India, one could do with having large centralised operations for PR set up with Strategic offices in cities of importance.

We decided on this model and have successfully executed PR campaigns not only across India, but also in UK, US, South Asia - Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives; Singapore, Middle East etc. with a centralised delivery team in Delhi. Clients who have worked with us have endorsed this by staying with us for years together.

Yet I am dismayed sometimes at the mindset of people at new Client pitches. You send them your profile which mentions this fact and they call you for pitches. Here you are more often than not asked, how many offices do you have? One looks flabbergasted, is this guy for real? We have sent him our profile, he has called us for a pitch assumingly after having read the profile, then why this stupid question? One patiently explains and tries to show him the power of communication, but this guy will not understand. He wants an agency which has 50 offices. More the better.

One loses out in the pitch to agencies who show 30-40-50 offices. And what are these offices, more often than not they are affiliates or one man desk manned by junior level guy. And the client wants this? I can only scratch my head and wonder at the intelligence of such clients. Whenever we have lost a pitch to the so called big agencies, we have monitored the PR campaign of such clients closely for years together and have wondered at the output.

One would not be complaining if the outputs were good, as you would at least have the consolation that the account went to someone who is good. But rarely have I seen accounts going to better agencies. My question is really to all those people sitting on clients side, who happen to read this, Is your phobia with number of offices justified? Shouldn't you be looking at the bandwidth that the agency is bringing to the table? Shouldn't you be looking at people who can actually partner you in your enterprise rather than act as vendors?

Managements at Clients should realise that unless their marketing team gets rid of this phobia, they might end up the ultimate losers, by appointing agencies who at best can perhaps do sporadic media relations and lot of ego massage of the marketing team. And by the time the realisation of a mistake dawns on them, it might be too late for them to catch up with the competition.

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