Why do people, particularly journalists including some of public relations own, insist on calling public relations firms “agencies.”  I don’t get it.

I have always told our staff that we’re a firm.  We’re not an agent of our clients but a counselor to them.  It got started with advertising agencies which are or were truly agents of their clients.  They bought advertising on their behalf, and paid for it, and sometimes got burned in doing so because the clients couldn’t pay them.  And they didn’t charge their clients for their time; instead they took a percentage of the advertising that they did on behalf of a client.  Some still do.

Public relations firm are not agents of their clients.  We charge fees and sometimes charge a percentage of the costs it takes to print a brochure or put on a special event.  But we’re a firm, and so are most groups of people who perform work for a client.

I can take on any arguments about firms vs. agencies.

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