Ex-Shandwick and Burson chiefs aim to cut PR waste and inefficiency

LONDON - Former Weber Shandwick and Burson-Marsteller chiefs, Keith Simpson and Janet Salvoni respectively, are combining PR skills with those of management consultants to eliminate the unnecessary wastage and inefficiency of PR.

The founders of Optimum Strategy are aiming to increase the commercial benefit a company gets from its PR by up to 25%, by making PR more accountable through independent auditing.

The two also hope, by doing so, to improve the standing of PR in the boardroom by making it even more accountable and more obviously related to commercial objectives.

According to the former Shandwick and Nexus managing director Simpson: "It is accepted business practice to conduct regular cost-effectiveness reviews across key areas of business investment and expenditure but rarely is PR put under the microscope to the same degree."

Simpson argues that while many companies are spending huge sums on PR they are finding it very difficult to define the contribution that it makes to business. Salvoni, his partner in the new venture is the former managing director of marketing at Burson-Marsteller, which she joined after a 15-year career with Shandwick group of companies.

"The time has come to apply more independent rigour to assessing what return an organisation gets from its PR investment and how it can be improved," Simpson said.

The two want to make clear that Optimum is not a PR agency and therefore is not campaign- or project-based -- it is well positioned to provide advice, based on decades of in-house and consultancy experience across a wide range of markets.

The two claim that PR only delivers its full potential when thoroughness is applied to a series of planning and foundation fundamentals, which begin with an organisation's commercial objectives and overall marketing mix.

According to Optimum Strategy, when insufficient scrutiny is given to one or more of the fundamentals, the result is unnecessary wastage, inefficiency and even lack of motivation among PR staff.

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Gordon MacMillan, recommends

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