By Rick Gould, CPA, J.D.
PR firms, regardless of their specialty, usually learn and master the fundamentals of successful PR campaigns. They develop skill sets not only as publicists but also as counselors and advisors.
Those that specialized in disciplines as technology, travel and financial/IR did extremely well in prosperous times… but their profitability plummeted during the tech meltdown and the financial bust we are experiencing now.
I suggest a change of direction in these unusual times. To insulate your firm from future hard times and recessionary cycles, hire a top notch PR specialist in a specialty different from your current offerings.
Diversify your client service offerings. Build the new specialty and invest in it. Be entrepreneurial. Take a risk, oversee it, and provide guidance… but allow others to run it and develop it. This will provide a cushion when revenues may be slipping in your primary specialties.
Let’s use law firms as an example. Those specializing in M&A transactions during boom years moved into restructuring and turnaround specialties when deals were infrequent. Bankruptcy law firms that were looking for work when the economy was good are now searching for attorneys with a bankruptcy background. And firms that created class-action specialties as corporate C-suite and Madoff-type frauds were uncovered are now thriving. The time to create these specialties is when it is a deliberate, measured choice… not when done in panic or survival mode.
These unusual times may require a change in direction. Diversifying makes the challenge more transparent and keeps the firm focused on long-term viability.