Be the “un”

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By Kim McKeeman

CEO, McKeeman PR

I was working on our PR agency’s business plan and had to take a step back and really, honestly look at why a client works with our company.  Forget the 30,000-foot vision for a minute, and get down to reality.

It sounds easy.  We do this for our clients all the time.  We help them define what makes them unique, compelling — what makes a customer turn right into their parking lot instead of left into their competitor’s lot.  Sure, it sounds easy.

Instead, I looked at it from the other side.  Why don’t our clients work with other agencies?  We know what they’ve told us.  “They’re too big.”  “They staff our business with inexperienced people.” “They’re not local enough.”  “They’re too expensive.”

Essentially, many of our clients don’t like much of what makes traditional agencies traditional agencies.

Interestingly enough, I agree.

And very likely that’s why we think one of our key differentiating factors (yes, it’s marketing-speak) is that we’re pride ourselves in being more of an “un-agency”.  Remember when 7-Up was marketed as the Uncola?  People knew what cola was, but immediately knew this was different.

I’m okay that our agency doesn’t fit the traditional mold.  In fact, I’m more than okay with that.

Seth Godin shared this week in one of his blogs, “what’s the problem with weird”? Different is good and interesting.  And it’s even better when it fills a need.

Don’t get me wrong.  We focus passionately on doing more of the right things traditional agencies do.  It’s the unhealthy traditional agency behaviors we avoid like the plaque.  Or, like we avoid movies that headline teen pop stars.

Great work doesn’t come just from managing traditional undertakings even better.  It’s sometimes about having the courage to ask questions, remove barriers and “be weird.”  Or, just put “un” in front of that product, and your customers and your people will get the picture.

Author Bio:  Kim McKeeman is a public relations professional whose career spans two decades. As the owner and CEO of McKeeman PR in North Carolina, she leads her team in bringing well-known national and regional food, beverage and retail brands to life in local markets.  Kim is also the mother of three teenage boys.





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