Youth or Experience – You Can’t Buy Both

When choosing a public relations consultancy, one will inevitably run up against that age old choice: Should I opt for youth or go for a firm that has experience?

Looking through a recent Who’s Who in Public Relations supplement published by Business Plus magazine, one was struck by the many fresh young faces whose agencies were profiled and whose opinions were quoted.

Youngest was a firm just a few months old. Oldest – though they themselves may not be conscious of it – was a firm that has been advising clients longer than any other.

The consultancy one chooses will often depend on the nature and quality of service one is seeking.  Youth has its very special appeal, especially in this social media driven world. Young agencies can have a vibrancy, a bubbling enthusiasm, an urgency and drive that long-established firms may find difficult to match. The need to ‘prove oneself’ can be a potent force.

Against this, one might ask: How can the older, more mature consultancy compete?

One imagines that the answer lies in the fact that consultancies don’t get to be mature without having some notion of what it takes to ‘get things done’. Not unreasonably, the more mature consultancy will have richness in terms of ‘learned knowledge and experience’ that only years can bring – qualities that younger practitioners must take time to acquire. Probably, they will have an established client base, excellent contacts, and a track record to which they can refer and from which they can draw knowledge when framing their campaigns.

There is no right answer when it comes to solving this dilemma. However, there are some interesting questions that could be asked when short-listing your choice of consultancies. It is this: How many clients have you every lost through bad workmanship? The firm that answers ‘none’ will be a very special one indeed!