I have been incredibly lucky to work on small PR campaigns which have been adaptive, creative and passionate and ultimately successful. There must be larger organisations with these qualities but surveying the current state of Government and corporate Australia, give me the small outfits every time.
I guess it is counter intuitive to be in business and aim for small rather than grand communications campaigns. After all isn’t business about making as much money as possible?
Certainly the returns are not as attractive for small as they are for larger projects. The issues aren’t as big and the chances to make an impact or build a reputation are reduced. Still there is something intrinsically satisfying if not financially rewarding about a modest PR campaign.
Driven by passion or ruled by the clock?
Firstly smaller not for profits are often staffed by people with passion and focused ambition. They are intimately involved with their issue or product and have a personal interest. As they reach out to communicate, it is more a mission than a job and their energy and commitment shines through. That drive can be contagious and often I find myself devoting far more of myself than originally planned.
Contrast this with very large companies or agencies where the sense of purpose is dissipated by size and people are driven from the top or by the clock.
Big budgets can be bad
Small community organisations have tighter communications budgets and fewer people to help. To achieve results they must be creative and adapt, morph and change as things unfold. A smaller organisation will often experiment with different approaches and tactics for one simple reason. They cannot buy success and for them there is no alternative. Meanwhile larger organisations with weighty cheque books can be inclined to fund what has worked in the past and even discount less expensive but equally effective options. For them the motivation can be fear of failure rather than a dream of success.
A few years ago I produced a marketing plan for a government agency which was rejected because the price tag was too low. Sent away to develop something more substantial, I presented new arrangements which were four times more expensive but only marginally if indeed more effective. The Board approved the new million dollar plan without discussion.
The communications moat
Big outfits often have a moat between the boss and the communications team that can only be crossed after navigating multiple egos or echelons. These PR teams pine as they stand outside the door when the real decisions are made and dream of a seat at the table where the powerful gather. Smaller organisations are lucky to have a boardroom table and cannot afford bureaucracy because it risks their business. When it comes to decision making they are likely to stress coordination than centralisation.
Smalll is good and big is bad?
Not all small is good and big is bad! I have been incredibly lucky to work on small scale PR undertakings which have been adaptive, creative and passionate and in the end successful. There must be larger concerns with these qualities but surveying the current state of Government and corporate Australia, give me small and nimble every time.