We pride ourselves on our unparalleled ability to develop practical, time- and budget-sensitive communications plans for clients that demonstrate our keen insight into our clients’ business goals and objectives, and our awareness of external market nuances that present additional challenges and opportunities.
Unlike some of our peers, we never walk into an initial meeting with a prospective client with a tactical plan in hand outlining “What S&A Can Do for You.” We won’t offer story headlines we envision in the Wall Street Journal or New York Times. There won’t be a list of blog topics we would ghostwrite or speaking opportunities we would pursue on that company’s behalf. We won’t razzle-dazzle them with a mixed-media PowerPoint presentation.
Instead, we simply listen.
Our communication strategy recommendations and execution plans are developed after we gain a detailed understanding of a client’s business and its target constituencies. To do otherwise would be tantamount to a doctor outlining a course of treatment without first learning what ails the patient.
As our retainer fees are time-sensitive, we make certain the programs are efficiently focused and executed. This keeps our fees comparatively low and our success rate unusually high. Although our hourly professional fees are comparable with those at the nation’s largest firms, we can get the job done in considerably less time.
All S&A accounts are overseen and serviced by a team of senior professionals, many with advanced degrees and previous backgrounds in journalism and business. Potential S&A clients are introduced to their prospective account team before retaining us. They will be the people sitting around the boardroom table at the initial meeting. We do not use “pitch teams”; there is no bait-and-switch when it comes to account team representations.
We take great pride in the fact that we have never lost an account because of performance, and our chronic worrying about there being “a first time” keeps us on our toes. We know all too well that the longevity of a relationship is dependent on staying one step ahead of our clients. That’s why we insist on formally reviewing account activities with each client on a weekly basis, either internally or on a conference call. This discipline helps us make necessary course corrections when a client’s communications priorities have evolved.
S&A is not an appropriate agency for every organization. As our clients ultimately define our image and reputation, we only represent companies that adhere to the highest ethical standards, have intriguing business or investment stories, and, most important, are ready to tell them. They say that money won’t buy happiness. Well, it won’t buy positive PR results either when there’s simply nothing to leverage that will help engage targeted constituencies.
Given our position that the corporate communications function should serve as the relationship-building liaison between an organization and its constituencies and not as a mere defense-oriented gatekeeper, we are not the right agency for companies looking for the proverbial spin-doctor, especially when a crisis hits. When a crisis becomes public knowledge, it’s folly for a company to attempt to “spin” an announcement or other corporate development in an effort to deliberately cloak the details of an unfavorable event.