In an earlier post, I wrote about how international trade shows used to be the exclusive domain of large, multinational technology companies like IBM, Microsoft, Cisco, and Salesforce.
Nowadays, thanks in large part to the growth of the Internet, robust venture capital, and even the widespread usage of smartphones, it is far easier for up-and-coming SME tech companies to compete and win against the big players at home and abroad. In other words, David is taking it to Goliath in the B2B tech space.
Another benefit of the Internet’s pervasiveness and its ease of conducting business?
A rise in lean, agile PR firms like Swyft staffed with senior professionals and capable of fueling the communications of tech companies around the world — usually at a speed and price point that eludes multinational PR firms.
Speaking of large PR firms, according to research and interviews found in a recent Digiday article, many enterprises are bringing the PR function in-house. The reasons for the switch include getting ‘burned’ by agencies in the past, agency reliance on junior staff, ‘smoke and mirrors’ promises, and the high cost of hiring them.
One has to wonder, though, whether the decision to hire and run communications from within is not itself a reaction to a general lack of value associated with hiring a large agency. Today’s market forces — a more expensive labor pool, technology that makes international business far easier to scale, a degree of corporate bloat among multinational agencies — make it hard to build a strong case for hiring large, expensive, and less nimble international creative shops.
As with any imbalance in efficiency and cost in the market, a fresh alternative has a way of springing up. Enter a new crop of PR firms that have come to answer the call for greater efficiency, accountability, and value.
Again, thanks in part to the rise of new technologies, as well as flexible office space providers like WeWork, small firms need not emulate their larger counterparts by committing large amounts of capital into office leases and capital assets around the world. Instead, firms just like Swyft operate across time zones, continents, and even languages with relative ease and affordability.
Many of the newer crop of agencies belong to tight-knit networks that bring high-end talent from across the world under one virtual roof, effectively expanding reach, deepening industry fluency, and localizing media outreach on demand. Swyft created its own network, called First PR Alliance, partly out of a desire to create a strong B2B tech focus and partly because we felt that a handpicked network would lend itself to more creative synergies and operational efficiency.
Is there evidence that agile PR firms can indeed fill the void currently being left behind by large agencies? Anecdotally speaking, plenty of proof abounds among our European members of First PR Alliance. Here in the U.S., Swyft recently wrapped up its first year supporting a global security surveillance technology company owned by Schneider Electric, the €27.5 Billion a year technology company based in Paris, France. We took over from another PR firm after the operating company (Pelco) had taken hits to both its reputation and its revenue for several years.
The ask? Stem the negative media coverage, refocus the media narrative on the company’s new innovations, and help generate more demand for the company’s products and services, particularly at trade shows. As this case study clearly shows, we exceeded expectations and even blew past the ambitious KPIs set as stretch goals to inspire our performance.
One proof point we particularly enjoyed seeing? The company more than doubled their orders at an important 2019 trade show in Dubai, where our media outreach scored them over double the coverage compared to their rivals. What’s more, we accomplished these results with core Swyft trade show PR team augmented by top-level resources from our First PR Alliance members.
Admittedly, our success and growth, and the success of our First PR Alliance partners, may not equate to irrefutable empirical data supporting a fundamental shift in market share in the creative industry sector. It is proof, however, that even large enterprises like Schneider Electric are looking for value in their PR vendors. They want a white-glove level of service that drives measurable business results, but they also demand value, transparency, accountability, and agility.
Combined with what Digiday is seeing in its own research, this makes a good case for the continued use of smaller, more agile PR firms to carry the load for many B2B tech companies for the foreseeable future.