Tips from 360PR for Building a Boutique PR Business

After a decade in business, 360PR, the 25-person boutique PR firm based in Boston, has announced the launch of a New York City office led by Rob Bratskeir.

CEO and founder Laura Tomasetti subscribes to the belief that size doesn’t matter. Since 2001, the economy has had a couple of low points and she says the conditions have been “exactly right for boutique agencies.” More important to clients is whether their PR firm “can be entrepreneurial, flexible, and nimble,” she told us in a phone conversation today.

Tomasetti has experience working with both larger firms and large companies and said she always wanted to do “big brand work.” That work is possible with a boutique firm, she says. However, she tells us there are some things that 360PR is doing in order to compete with the bigger agencies.

First, invest in talent and tools. Tomasetti told us she’s excited about the combined talent pool that the New York office will open up for the firm. She uses Bratskier as an example, who she says will provide insights for her team, which has been making frequent trips to NYC for some time. (When deciding where to open another office, Tomasetti said it was either New York or the West Coast.)

“Go out and get the right people, but then once they’re there, retention is so important,” she says, adding that turnover at 360PR is low while investment in talent is comparable to larger firms. “We don’t want people to feel they’re not challenged and learning.” Moreover, you don’t want clients to sense that.

Bratskeir added that when you invest in tools “to have the capabilities, you don’t have to apologize for not having something. You come to the table with everything you need.”

Next, “think about your culture, values, and do constant check-ins with employees and clients to make sure [you’re] delivering on the culture,” Tomasetti says. She touted the bottom-up nature of firm interaction, using as an example a summer retreat where the team was able to discuss what’s working and what’s not.

“We were working in more distinct groups and we decided we didn’t want that to happen,” she says. “We win when people are working across teams and sharing resources.”

Last week during our discussion with Allison & Partners CEO Scott Allison, he said that many firms “stall” when they reach the decade mark, a milestone that 360PR has also reached.

“We have had consistent, sustainable, well-managed growth. We look at it as being 10 years young and not 10 years old,” Tomasetti says, adding that minding the agency culture is important as the firm grows and times change.

“You do have growing pains at the 10-year mark; firms do change when they get to 40 or 50 people,” she says. With the new office, the firm will be adding to its staff list.

Of course, since PRNewser is in New York and we are age-old rivals with Boston, we had to ask about similarities and differences between the two cities. Both Tomasetti and Bratskeir point out that there is a similar “work ethic” and “entrepreneurial spirit,” with Boston having strength in the tech and social media areas, as well as in advertising and marketing. We asked whether Boston would be the next tech hub last month; one group definitely thinks it’s possible. You can check that out here.

Publish date: September 26, 2011 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT