Marketing, PR agencies scale back

Faced with falling revenues, many businesses are reining in their marketing efforts. That means local marketing and public relations firms have had to follow suit.

"Everybody has pulled back," said Lanphier Associates President Rick Moir. "There's not a business I'm aware of that hasn't had to cut back in some form."

Those spending cuts have hit marketing and public relations firms, including Lanphier, squarely in the pocketbook.

"Unfortunately, marketing is an expense that is going to get cut sooner or later," Moir said. "People just aren't spending money. In some industries it doesn't matter how much marketing they do, the fact is people are just not spending money."

As with similar firms, Lanphier Associates has made its own cuts, reducing its staff to eight from a high-water mark of 16. Another firm, the Maentz Agency, also has cut its staff by half.

"We're down in total advertising 40 percent from a year ago," said owner Bill Maentz.

Both companies have worked to fill the gaps by streamlining operations and seeking out new business.

"We've cut expenses about as far as we can and positioned ourselves to where we come out the other side and serve our clients," Moir said. "But it hasn't been business as usual; we're looking at entirely new ways of doing business."

Moir said the agency has eliminated redundancy, reducing the layers of communication between clients and its media services and video-production staff.

Lanphier Associates, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2010, has retained some of its earliest clients, but has seen change as well.

"There was a point where Harry & David, Rogue Valley Manor, Asante Health System and Cascade Wood Products were all with us," Moir said.

Harry & David and the Rogue Valley Manor's parent company, Pacific Retirement Services, have gone their own way, but the company's health care clientele has broadened. Health care business produces 50 percent of Lanphier's sales revenue, with banking providing a large percentage as well. Cascade Wood Products accounts for 10 percent of the company's business.

"We're focusing on niches wherever we are going to be successful," Moir said. "We keep our client base pretty small, but we're not really turning away anyone at this point."

Like Lanphier, the Maentz Agency has lost important clients and has pushed to replace those with new customers.

Maentz said 2009 has been the toughest year in his nearly two decades in the business.

"Our largest client was Charter Communications, and they've gone to an agency out of the area," he said. "Most of our other activity was replaced with new clients or other initiatives."

But the losses have taken their toll: the Maentz staff has been halved from 22 to 11.

"The work is changing," Maentz said. "There's been a lot more Web work, more public relations and a lot less retail advertising. But at the same time, we just keep plugging along and doing what we do.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail

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