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Sep 20, 2001
Case Study

How to Land New PR Clients

SUMMARY: If you're in PR you know that 2001 has been a rotten year for new client development for almost everyone.

Agencies of all sizes are laying people off, lowering prices, and scrambling to keep clients. Learn how one boutique agency is growing (and stealing clients from the big boys) despite it all.

Agencies in the high tech field are among the hardest hit because so many of their clients' fortunes were tied to the dot-com bubble.

While the boutique-sized, high tech PR firm, PerkettPR had carved out a niche for itself in the marketplace over the past few years, CEO Chris Perkett says, "We're up against the big guys now. They are laying people off and they need business. There's a rumor that one of the largest East Coast agencies is calling other people's clients saying, 'How much are you paying for PR? We'll cut it in half.'"


PerkettPR has always positioned itself as an economic choice. Perkett's Lisa Dilg explains, "The thought commonly associated with PR firms, especially those in the high tech world, is of expensive office space in the city, with skyline views, PR execs getting together over $3 muffins to brainstorm and go over the days news."

Instead of just saying 'we're cheaper' Chris Perkett explains to prospective clients that PerkettPR is cheaper for a good reason -- everyone works virtually from home offices. So what you're paying for is brains and work, rather than fancy desks.

She also focuses on exactly what results you can get for your money. She explains, "It's our differentiator. Big agencies have expensive junior staff doing a lot of schmoozing to maintain the client relationship. These days clients would rather see measurement." So every six months PerkettPR presents clients with detailed research on exactly where they are in terms of mindshare with press, customers and prospects, increases in articles written, and increases in related sales. This measurement service is included in the regular fee package at no extra charge.

Aside from doing the obvious tracking on Lexis Nexis and clipping services, Perkett realizes that most Internet news isn't picked up by traditional clipping services yet, so she has her team use a wide variety of online resources to track it. She says, "I love Google and is another great resource. We use so many different resources, there is no one perfect way to do it."

The team also checks online publications related to their clients every single morning and creates highly detailed monthly status reports. Then the even more detailed semi-annual presentations require an additional couple of weeks of work.

Plus, when PerkettPR signs a new client the first thing they do is backtrack research for the prior year so they'll have results to measure against.


PerkettPR has not had to lay anyone off -- in fact this month they are hiring! Plus they gained two new major clients in the last quarter. Both clients nCipher and Quallaby looked at a range of other firms, including the big guys, before choosing PerkettPR.

Chris Perkett says, "We went against 18 competitors for the nCipher account. They kept on pushing marketing services the company wasn't ready for yet, included in the price. nCipher said, 'We don't want to use that.' We don't include things in the retainer when they're not needed."

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