A recent ProfNet indicated that PRWeek is doing a story on agencies from a client-side perspective. The question asks clients whether they prefer to have an agency-of-record (AOR)or roster agencies.

What is the preference is neither?

Since the ProfNet post limited the responses to clients, I thought I'd post my opinion here.

First, a definition. You could google it, bing it or find it's wiki, but let's go simple. If a company employs only one agency, they have an Agency of Record; If a company employs several agencies, they are all Roster Agencies.

After polling some colleagues, I found that agencies swing both ways. Some of the larger ones (and the smaller ones for that matter) prefer AOR status and seek out only those opportunities. Other agencies, particularly those that have some sort of category-specific experience (food, fashion, et al) or those that specialize in one particular function of PR, investor relations, say, play fine in the sandbox as a roster agency.

I think the perfect scenario is a compromise. Let's call it Lead

The Lead Agency acts as AOR in most cases, but when client needs excede its knowledge-base or overtask it's employees, the Lead Agency then hires a roster agency but manages it.

Why does this work? It gives the client the benefit of a deep bench without having to manage multiple companies. The Lead Agency is still the client's only point of contact.

MLMC is a rather small agency in terms of full-time staff. I represent MLMC full-time and have three business partners (one manages strategy; one PR; and one graphic design) along with Erin, my superstar intern.

But, when projects call for it, our numbers are infinite. For a recent press conference/community event, extra manpower was a definite need, and we pulled in two other agencies to help with social media and content-development.