Why specialism trumps generalism in the quest for PR success

When you think of a PR professional, what characteristics come to mind? A strong communicator, great writer with faultless attention to detail, and someone who has a solid work ethic and natural news-sense.

Even the most decorated and experienced professional would admit that, while they may possess these skills, they are stronger in some aspects of the job than others.

Maybe they love the task of transforming reams of data and statistics into compelling, headline-grabbing copy. Others may hate being stuck in the office faced with hours of writing, much preferring to hit the phones to sell-in a press release or get out in front of the media to build long-lasting relationships.

PR agencies have traditionally been structured around teams of generalists working in a matrix and structured as a hierarchy. One moment you might be drafting a whitepaper, the next you could be pitching a client to a journalist contact in reaction to a breaking news story, or compiling a coverage report.

At Whiteoaks we prefer to do things differently, offering our clients a dedicated team based on specialists.

You get an account lead in the form of an experienced director or manager. This person will offer strategic advice and consultancy while heading a team of specialists who have particular skillsets for specific tasks.

They include a dedicated content creator, typically an ex journalist, who gets under the skin of your business and writes everything from press releases, to articles and technical whitepapers.

In the generalist structure you might one day get a piece of copy that is very good, written by someone senior, and the next a piece of copy written by a more junior member that is, with the best will in the world, pretty poor. You as the client will be looking at these two documents wondering how on earth they’ve come from the same place.

Under our structure, that simply doesn’t happen. Your content creator understands your business, your product, solutions and services, but also understands your tone of voice and messaging. It also means that we don’t have a highly skilled writer worrying about ordering sandwiches for next week’s meeting.

Each team also includes an influencer relations specialist, a media seller in old money, pitching and securing opportunities. He or she is a vital member of each team, using their in-depth knowledge of national and trade media to ensure content gets maximum exposure.

In addition clients benefit from a digital and social executive, who is responsible for managing social feeds and supporting client campaigns with lead generation. They are skilled in creating compelling and impactful digital content, overseeing social communities and using the latest tools to effectively report on social successes.

Furthermore, they take pride in staying on top of the latest social media and digital trends by building relationships with key industry players and influencers.

Each team also has an account coordinator, generally the most junior team member, to ensure the smooth running of the account through meetings, calls and approvals.

It is this mixture of experience and specialism that we believe sets Whiteoaks apart and helps us achieve exceptional results for clients.

Simon Coughlin, Senior Account Director