Smaller ‘Boutique' PR Firms Popping Up

Smaller ‘Boutique' PR Firms Popping Up
Natalie Ghidotti, president and CEO of Ghidotti Communications

Last week’s official launch of Aarch Communications shines a light on the continuing rise of small “boutique” firms specializing in public relations, social media, communications and related fields. (See Tennille, DeCample and Noble Form Aarch Communications).

Aarch brings together Matt DeCample, former communications director for Gov. Mike Beebe and reporter at KATV, Channel 7; Grant Tennille, the former director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission under Beebe; and lobbyist and consultant Ben Noble, a former legislative aide for U.S. Sens. Dale Bumpers and Blanche Lincoln. Their launch continues a trend of smaller firms offering more tailored services and even working with other specialized firms to meet clients’ needs. Aarch’s focus will be on public affairs and strategic communications, but if a client needs a public relations-specific service, it has options.

Former Little Rock admen Jordan Johnson and Denver Peacock launched their own firms in recent years, and brothers Jay, Ross and Chris Cranford (sons of CJRW founder Wayne Cranford) branched out to start their own firm.

Little Rock’s “boutique firm” pioneer, Natalie Ghidotti (a former editor of Arkansas Business’ sister publication Little Rock Family), thinks such launches will continue. Ghidotti started her firm, PR-centric Ghidotti Communications, in 2007 and a year later partnered with Little Rock agency Eric Rob & Isaac.

(Also see: Ghidotti Communications Ends ERI Partnership, Moves to Regions Center)

“Smaller boutique firms are competing with the larger, traditional agency model,” she told Arkansas Business. “Aarch goes right along with that. You get super-talented people coming together and saying, ‘We can compete with the larger agencies.’ We can work leaner and more efficient, and we can work with each other and each of us can still have our own clients.”

Ghidotti said such strategic partnerships allow smaller, more specialized agencies to find the best colleagues for each job, whether a job entails advertising, videography, website design or even media strategy. And her national affiliation with PRConsultants Group enhances what she can offer clients, she said.

Ghidotti believes the “boutique firm” trend will continue, and despite recently ending her firm’s strategic partnership with ERI on an official basis, she plans to continue working with it and other firms.

“There is work to be had for niche/boutique firms,” Ghidotti said. “There’s a lot of specialty work to be done. The trend will continue, and smaller firms will continue to work with each other. I’ve seen it locally and nationally, and I think most firms now have arrangements like that. I see it more and more.”