MP&F’s Top 25 PR Questions

August 28, 2012

McNeely Pigott & Fox is celebrating 25 years in business during 2012, and one of the ways we’re celebrating is by answering the 25 questions we are most often asked about our business.

Question 12: Does MP&F specialize in one industry? 

By Andrew Maraniss

When I was first looking to apply for a job at MP&F back in 1998, I was intrigued by the fact that the company listed the Tennessee Oilers as one of its clients. With a background in collegiate and professional athletics public relations myself, I had visions of joining an agency that specialized in sports.

NFL Yes!

MP&F provided full communications, marketing and strategic support for the Yes for Nashville grassroots organization, which was instrumental in bringing an NFL franchise to Nashville from Houston.

And when a good portion of my job interview consisted of questions about the strength of my throwing arm and my competitiveness, I really figured I was on to something. After I was hired, I discovered there was a flag football game scheduled at the company retreat a few weeks later, and one of my interviewers had been trying to determine whether I might be a good option at quarterback. Also turned out MP&F didn’t specialize in sports or any other industry.

And for that, I am thankful.

2012 MP&F Hackin' Flacks

This season, MP&F specialized in softball. Our Hackin’ Flacks won the league championship.

On a personal level, I think it makes for a much more interesting job for each of us. A key to success in this field is to truly understand a client’s industry, and with everyone here working on behalf of a number of clients in vastly different fields, we are “forced” into a situation where we must pay attention to just about everything going on in the world around us. For me, that meant no more just reading the sports section. On a typical day, I’m reading and learning about developments in the automotive, education, health care and economic development fields, just to name a few, and the same is true (though the industries vary) for everyone here.

As I’ve come to better understand over my 14 years here, maintaining a diverse client list is also good for business. Our company is not subject to the peaks and valleys of any one particular industry. And we’re better able to avoid the conflicts of interest that may arise when representing multiple clients in one niche.

The most important question is whether this lack of specialization works for our clients, and not surprisingly, our answer is a resounding ‘yes.’ I don’t think there’s any doubt that the cross-pollination of ideas and the exposure to thought-leaders across industries allows us to better serve our clients. One of the most important things a good PR partner can do for its clients is to make connections and open new opportunities for business; knowing the players in key positions outside a client’s own circle is often of tremendous value.

All of this is not to say that each and every one of our hundreds of clients over the last 25 years has been different, or that there aren’t some advantages to working with more than one client in a particular industry at any one time. It’s just to say that, over the years, we’ve earned a reputation for understanding how to help clients in multiple fields, not just one, ranging from education to restaurants to health care to transportation. And, as it now turns out, sports: We have at least six sports-related clients on our current roster. So, if I just have to watch ESPN and read Sports Illustrated in order to succeed at work, I guess that’s just the price one pays.

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