How the Publicity Business Model Boosted their Profitability

How the Publicity Business Model Boosted their Profitability


Vital stats

  • Company: Publicity
  • Player: Andrea Desfarges
  • Est: 2013
  • Contact: +27 (0)21 557 0213
  • Visit:

On her LinkedIn profile, Andrea Desfarges calls herself a ’different PR consultant.’ Having run her own high-profile agency in London for eight years, she returned to Cape Town and launched the simply titled Publicity in August 2013. One thing that is different about Publicity, in the rather cluttered world of PR, is its business model.

Related: Defining the Business Model

A business model that fits tight budgets

Many service providers are more interested in the reward and less interested in accepting risks over and above their standard retainer model.

Desfarges has challenged this by doing away with the retainer-based contracts, and adopting a more co-operative stance to share risk and rewards with her customers, and build confidence for a long-term relationship.

In a sluggish economy, it’s certainly not a bad idea to be the kind of partner that clients contract with to directly achieve business outcomes for and with the customer. It’s about taking a broader view of risk and pricing your services according to projects rather than long-term contracts.

“My aim has always been to keep Publicity small and keep it real,” says Desfarges. “In the PR industry, honesty is important, as is doing what you say you will. By sharing costs with clients and agreeing to share profits, we ensure that we keep our word.

“It’s not about over-promising, because under-delivering would directly impact our business. On the clients’ part, they have nothing to lose, nor do they get lumbered with an expensive retainer.”

Concept-driven PR

Another distinguishing feature of the business is its focus on concept- and ideas-driven campaigns which are integrated into customers’ existing advertising strategies and ensure that the overall look and feel of their brand remains strong.

Publicity partners with well-known brands on projects that usually include digital and design aspects, online marketing, media work and an integrated marketing idea that gives that initial boost of ‘talkativity.’

“We focus on fast activation through clever activities, usually run in public areas, that are made to target a select audience and engage with them through the marketing experience so that they have a personal interaction with the brand,” she says.

“It’s an approach that is particularly well suited to product and campaign launches that need to get sales and media attention quickly.”

Partnering with the right people

A recent success is Publicity’s Shop for Good project, an online retail store where profits go to The Children’s Hospital Trust which will use the proceeds to fund the upgrades at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.

Another is a family event at Cape Town’s Castle of Good Hope that is attractive to adults too, and holds much more in store for visitors than the usual face painting and jumping castles.

“It’s really about coming up with ideas and partnering with the organisations that can make your ideas work,” she says.

Top tips

  • In a competitive industry, share risk and reward with your clients to attract business
  • In PR and marketing, focus on select audiences for bigger impact – effective marketing is niche marketing
  • Partner with causes and brands that your target audience cares about to get your client’s (or your) brand’s attention.

Related: Win-Win: Strategically Partner With Your Top Competitors 

Monique Verduyn
Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.