Richard Medley
MD, Wild Card

Some topics in PR are not new, just important to revisit to match the topical climate. The one that debates sector specialist vs PR generalist is a bit like the Hundred Years’ War, but to date (slightly) shorter. However, it’s supremely relevant when brands are struggling to flourish or even survive, where our clients have to manage limited internal resource, and where a one team mentality is not just a nice alignment message, but something that is business critical.

A generalist would argue –  correctly  –  that media coverage is something any decent agency should be able to deliver by crafting a strong story, and sector know how is not the only way to succeed here. But, that’s a little one dimensional, with coverage increasingly just one aspect of what we deliver as specialists within Wild Card and Wild West.

Specialist value dives deeper than media outreach, and increasingly towards richer business input, where intricate knowledge of what makes a sector tick matters on a real value level.

It means knowing how the retail buyers think to help our clients win. It means knowing chefs, hoteliers, business leaders and industry storytellers inside out so you can smartly harness their input, as much as their output.

It means long term tracking of positive and negative trends that are vital to making an idea really resonate

It means helping the entrepreneurial feel they have relevant business partners from their direct world on their team, above and beyond coverage drivers. And it helps big brands feel they are learning and staying relevant from what challengers in very similar spaces to their own are doing.

Every sector is ferociously and fervently competitive, and opinion, edge and understanding from advisors that has been honed and shaped over years brings a thinking edge.

Would generalists add something more mould breaking to the creative mix? I would argue that mould breaking doesn’t flow just from coming fresh and unexposed to something. Specialists disrupt from a point of seeing the big picture and knowing when and where to kick away the legs from tradition, not just kicking for the sake of it. It’s insight and context first, relevant creativity second. Best idea wins is an accepted argument, but best insight winning is just as important.

We all need to play the long game , but one that is peppered with a good spread of short term wins too,  and this approach is where the specialist seeing the big picture and joining up all the context points is the one best placed to earn the coveted Trust badge.