ATTENTION BUSINESS OWNERS: bigger is not always better when it comes to steaks, stomachs or PR firms.

So why would ordinarily smart business people jump to dumb conclusions when picking PR firms? Why would they opt to pay more and probably receive less by hiring a big firm?

One reason is the old built-in-excuse it provides should the big firm fail to deliver. "Hey don't blame me, I picked one of the biggest PR firms in the country with top corporate clients, thousands of employees, offices worldwide. Go figure.

Another reason is where the big firm's located. "Hey let's impress our shareholders that we have a name brand, New York-based PR firm. Isn't New York the media capital of the world? Won't we now be center stage? Deep in the core of The Apple?

There's only one thing wrong with that reasoning. It's called The Internet, today souped by social media. The web has made location relatively meaningless. And bigness is just bigness, not necessarily effectiveness or productivity. Today you can book clients on network television on a laptop from the Fiji Islands.

Here's another lame excuse for hiring the biggest PR firm. They're powerful! So were dinosaurs in their day.. The financial structure and high overhead of big firms actually dictates most likely you'll get an impressive proposal from a highly-experienced new business advance team, but wind up with a fraction of one, frazzled, overworked publicist working part-time on your account.

Therefore, maybe you should save the big thoughts for ideas and products, but when it comes to PR firms, think small.

With a smaller firm, you'll have a better shot at getting their best people to work for you, not just one or two, but several in the firm deeply involved in your account. Smaller firms typically are less compartmentalized and bureaucratized and are not mired by a silo mentality that reduces efficiency and productivity. With a smaller firm, you're more likely to benefit from a true team approach that crosses specialty boundaries. A smaller firm will usually will devote more of that essential fuel called time required for branding acceleration and achievement.

Today smaller firms have the same technological resources, access to the same media lists, to newswires and research and definitely to a more resourceful approach fed by more creative environment. There's something about bigness that often stifles the risk that imagination often inspires.

Our firm, for example, often publicizes rings around many of the more staid and steady larger PR firms, who would never think of introducing a new hedge fund in "Hedgeville, Ky" to emphasize how different it is from the typical Wall Street offering.

Who would never think of baking a bulbous cake with candles for the great grand niece of Thomas Edison to blow out at an Inventor's Expo. Who would invent a Knife and Forklift as "training wheels for overeaters."

So next time, you're looking for a PR, don't be such a big shot, and forget that stupid phrase "size matters" unless you're looking to do cheesy publicity for male enhancement.


Tom Madden is the founder and CEO of TransMedia Group, one of the world's leading independent PR firms serving clients worldwide since 1981.  He has held top executive positions at ABC and NBC,where he was Vice President, Assistant to the President, then Fred Silverman. For his exploits in broadcasting and PR, he has been profiled in Time Magazine, Forbes and The Wall Street Journal. Speeches he wrote have been reprinted in The New York Times and Vital Speeches of the Day. Among awards he h...

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