Paul Roetzer, Founder and CEO of PR 20/20, an inbound marketing agency kindly agreed to offer his perspective on what the agency of the future looks like as it relates to one of the key agency new business discussion points coming out of our latest RSW/US survey:  How do Marketers decide what agency to work with?

Paul starts our interview by stating that agencies of the future will not look like agencies of today.

Agencies of the future will be the agencies winning accounts – not the traditional agencies of today.

Paul Roetzer

Paul believes that processes like RFPs and formal reviews will also be bygone practices – replaced by Marketers  selecting agencies that practice what they preach – playing the social and digital game the same way they tell their clients to practice it.  Paul tells us that this is how his agency PR 20/20 wins virtually all of its business.A big believer in inbound marketing for his agency, Paul and his team are extremely active bloggers and social media participants for their firm.  Paul states: “The way agencies market themselves is an expression of how they think strategically.  If they aren’t participating in social media and don’t show they’re on top of it, then the likelihood is, they are not.”

The way Paul sees it, a majority of agencies are still trying to figure it all out.

I asked Paul how an agency can carve out the time to manage their own closed loop, inbound marketing program, as it can be an enormous time zapper. Paul acknowledged that it is tricky.  He says most agency people are just good creative people and not good sales people or business people.  Paul states “It’s tough to balance doing both (managing agency and staying active in the social space).  There is no perfect answer.  You just need to make the commitment to it and it will help your agency grow.”

I asked Paul about one of our other key topics coming out of our survey:  Specialization.

Paul recommends agencies avoiding specialization.  “Prevailing guidance is specialization is the way to go.  In some industries it does make sense. But in more an more markets, Marketers want integrated solutions more than they want specific sector experience.”

Paul believes that part of the issue related to Marketers not wanting to hire a specialist has to do with conflicts.  “How can an agency have intimate knowledge of one company and then work with others in the same industry?”

Regardless of whether an agency specializes or not is less important than what Paul states is Job #1 of the agency: “Impact the bottom line!”  Regardless of how you’re structured or what you do, Paul says you need to ask yourself, “what are you trying to achieve for your client and then build a program to help achieve that end result.”

I closed the interview asking Paul what kinds of agencies were most vulnerable as we look forward into the future.  “Large agencies, run by agency executives that are on the tail end of their careers.  They don’t want to learn new things and their skills sets are becoming less and less relevant to Marketers.”  Paul gave the example of Ligget Stashower, once a dominant firm in the Cleveland area.  Had 100+ people, then 30, then they filed for bankruptcy early last year.

Agencies of the future, like PR 20/20, are chipping away at these legacy agencies, according to Paul.

I asked Paul if it’s too late for the bigger firms to turn the corner.  Fortunately, Paul believes it’s not too late.  “It’s not necessary to have the resources in-house, as long as you stay ahead of the knowledge game, you have well trained people supporting the accounts, and you can think strategically in the space, you’ll be ok.”


About PR 20/20

PR 20/20 started out in February 2004 as a vision to evolve the PR industry. Twenty-one months later—in November 2005—that idea manifested into an upstart PR and marketing firm. We were the industry’s first provider of standardized services and set pricing, and our model is the inspiration behind The Marketing Agency Blueprint (Wiley, 2011).

PR 20/20 is an inbound marketing agency that combines content, public relations, social media and search marketing into integrated campaigns. Our team of hybrid professionals are trained to monitor, strategize and act in real time; measure and deliver results efficiently and effectively; and serve as a seamless extension of clients’ internal marketing departments.

Links to other interviews conducted by Mark Sneider of RSW/US among Agency New Business thought leaders in the industry:

Interview with Tony Mikes of Second Wind:

Interview with Tim Williams of Ignition Consulting Group: