Diversify or Specialize?

blogger Carina Sayles is Co-Principal of Sayles & Winnikoff Communications,
a 10 year old boutique PR firm based in New York with affiliates in Los Angeles
and London. She and her partner Alan Winnikoff have previously worked for
Disney, Sony, CBS and MSNBC.

common wisdom is that we live in the age of specialization.  But, is
it possible to be too specialized? 
In fact, might there be something to be said for broad diversification.  We are a boutique PR firm and are asked frequently
what our specific specialty is — so many firms our size have a very specific
focus on fashion, licensing, music, tech or pharma.   At Sayles & Winnikoff we made a strategic decision to be generalists.
We always enjoy explaining this approach to potential clients and illustrating
for them why this strategy works to their advantage.  This is not to say that we don’t have areas of
focus and expertise, and our complimentary specialties actually help our ability
to be the most productive for each. 
There is a lot of cross-pollination between accounts of different genres
and this helps us think out of the box more effectively, while also giving us a
wider frame of contacts.

The important thing
to look for is to choose partners for your business whose areas of focus are
well aligned with yours, even if they are very diverse.  What happens in these cases is that the there
are interesting and often quite unforeseen areas of overlap that open up many
new avenues of both creativity and revenue. 
It’s not about having a scattered knowledge base, but rather about being
nimble in connecting the dots and seizing new and surprising opportunities that
expose your product, or project, to a much larger audience.

have seen this first-hand as our firm has built up an increasingly diverse
client base over the past 10 years.  With
an expertise in media companies, cultural as well as educational kid-related
content, our areas of specialization include entertainment, licensed products, digital
brands, publishing and start-ups. We consider it particularly fortuitous when
some or most of these areas converge, and find that this convergence strengthens both our business-to-consumer and
business-to-business campaigns.  We
have also found that our strategy of taking on a diverse but complimentary
array of clients has enabled those clients to tap into each other’s expertise or even to forge partnerships with
each other. The production company learns from the new social media company;
the non-profit organization may collaborate with a musical artist or health

Clients want a broad frame of reference for the project
they want promoted.  They look to PR and
marketing partners to create opportunities to showcase their creation outside of the usual places where it would be
reviewed or discussed, because this attracts more new, untapped users for their
product.  Some of the most
interesting stories about a new television series, for example, can result from
approaching non-entertainment media for a different and in-depth look at an
interesting and unique aspect of the show – and this can attract new viewers
who would normally not think about watching that program.  In a more specific example, we have a tech
client with a new app that allows fans to seemingly personally interact with
their favorite characters from TV shows or movies.  They benefit from not just our tech contacts
but also our longstanding relationships with entertainment press.

An additional
benefit is that new clients are attracted to a working with a PR/Marketing
partner who has forged valuable
relationships with core media across multiple categories, and so is better
prepared to get across different messages about their new product or project to
a much broader array of outlets.  While
it is certainly helpful to have a reputation for promoting educational toys,
being able to frame that toy in a way that tells a story or motivates a museum
to create a community event around it elevates that product to an entirely
different level.  Products that have a
pro-social aspect benefit from being promoted by an agency that may have
non-profit connections, understands cause marketing and can also effectively activate
conversations in the education space or the health sector.

 Our flexibility
and willingness to dive into a wide variety of topics and interact
intelligently with both trade and consumer media covering many different fields
has enabled existing clients to use us to promote projects with partners that
have an entirely separate focus.  Often,
these partners work in areas that have been quite new to us.  However, our diverse and flexible knowledge
base enables us to so effectively promote their work with our clients that they
in turn hire us because they value the different outlook and audience we bring
to their project.  In the end, our
business is one of ideas and limitless conversation.  The more reference points we can bring in to
those conversations, the better poised we are to serve both our clients, and
our bottom line.


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