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Should PR Professionals Specialize in One Industry?

By Carey Warren

While recently reading about the fastest growing PR agencies in the U.S., I noticed a commonality between our firm and those who had recently been hitting their stride.

None of them were specialists in one industry – something I was happy to read.

In previous years, experts have recommended that PR firms work to dominate one specific niche – doing anything else means you’re out of business in six months. However, over the past 16 years, our firm has put a toe in a number of different industries, and has profited from every single one.

I can’t answer why those PR firms don’t focus on one industry — it wasn’t expressed. But for a firm like ours, it’s preferred in my opinion – for our clients, and for us.

Here’s Why

We cross-pollinate.

Back when I worked in ad sales for a particular magazine, the offices next door to my suite were occupied by a PR firm that only dealt with actors – Pierce Brosnan, Paris Hilton, and many other attractive and talented actors. Their account executives, also very pleasant, would come in with a new actress they represented, and ask if our editors were interested in covering them. Unfortunately, these PR professionals had no real angle to provide our magazine that would attract us to the talent. This was partially because they didn’t know enough about their client, but also because they only had connections with other actors and actresses. Coterie handles non-profits, production companies, networks, shows, and a series of other industries including green energy, lifestyle products, retail promotions, and others. We plug our clients in with each other, thereby creating news and opportunities we control within our own firm.

We use the strategies, tactics, tools, and techniques we learn in one industry in the successful promotion of another.

Every publicity agency worth its salt knows the basic blocking and tackling of PR – press kits, releases, media relations, etc. But because of the different industries we service, we have skills that can not only produce content (including video), but drive it to engagement in different ways. We found a way to push a song into the Billboard 100 chart, know how to get a YouTube video to the top of the search list, and have worked with firms that get independents film seen in hundreds of markets domestically and internationally — without a distributor. These tools gives us additional value we can provide for our clients, and more ideas on what to provide when.

We learn.

I have a friend who says, “In the course of a career, you either have years of different experiences, or you have one year of the same experiences over and over.” He’s right – many of us have the same experiences in the same job because we stay in the same position over and over again. Thankfully, with the immense changes that have taken place in media, I don’t think PR professionals have that luxury. Our industry is so exciting, and has so many moving parts, that it’s practically impossible to be bored, or have the same experience twice. In a business where we are largely paid for our ideas and our ability to execute them, learning new techniques is key.

We like it.

Taking on new challenges is fun. Learning is fun. Creating new relationships in an ever-changing industry is fun. New ideas and executions are fun. Why not?