Some of the bigger, more established agencies will be saying, “What are they thinking?” At the very least, there is going to be some finger wagging. But Maverick Marketing, Renaissance Marketing and TrianglePR think the time is right to launch new undertakings and build new relationships in marketing and communications.

Even as many so-called marcom agencies have cut back or even shut down in the Triangle and elsewhere, these three are going against the flow.

Partners Scott Place and Billy Purser will officially launch the aptly named Maverick Marketing later this month (www.maverickmarketing.com) with a number of clients already under their belts. The pair’s philosophy is a little different from that of the traditional retainer-based businesses favored by many agencies. Place and Purser are looking for small start-up companies that need to get a lot done in a little time.

“Our market is young and growing companies,” says Place. “A great prospect for us is a tech or bio-tech company with less than 10 people, maybe on their first round of funding. We are their outsourced marcom department.”

Maverick contracts with companies to complete well-defined projects, with definite beginnings and ends, as varied as executive searches, product launches and Web site design. As the companies grow, says Place, Maverick hopes to continue as their clients’ partner in providing specialized services: “They go on to build a marcom department, and we are their SWAT team.”

Place, most recently an independent consultant for a Brazilian company and formerly of Yellow Brick Solutions, and Purser, formerly of WindWire, are the only two Maverick employees at the moment. But they work with a team of contractors to service their clients, which include Gentris, Sitraka, EReady, and Kadro Solutions.

“In the pre-bubble days, it was no big deal to pay $50K or $60K per month for a public relations firm, but everybody’s smarter than that now,” says Place. Maverick’s flying start does not seem to be slowing. According to Place, he has received several calls just this week from new companies.

“I really think the Triangle economy is turning around and the start-up environment is returning,” he says.

Calls picking up at Renaissance

The big news at Renaissance Marketing (www.renmarketing.com) is the new business calls…half a dozen in the last two weeks alone. The difference is, this is just business as usual for the small, three-person firm. In the last six months, they have retained all the clients on their roster and added four new ones. Not too many Triangle agencies can say that.

Renaissance services small, emerging technology firms, among other companies, and according to founder David Chapman, who worked for agencies in the communications giant Interpublic Group for 13 years, “It’s pretty apparent to me that the small and mid-size companies are doing better than the larger.”

They key to Renaissance’s success seems to be the solid results they show clients. One client, SpringboardHosting.com, which started in June 2001 and has worked with Renaissance since, has gained more than 100 customers in that time.

“When I see mass media saying things are getting better, that doesn’t hold a lot of weight with me,” says Chapman. “But when I see new calls picking up…that means something.”

Renaissance provides clients with branding and media relations services, a development center for the creation of collateral materials and a strategic planning service named LINK, which is its most widely used service. “Our LINK planning is really resonating the most,” says Chapman. “Every company we talk to seems to be looking to reload. I think there is a real assessment going on. Things are picking up and people are more optimistic.”

Renaissance’s newest client is local candy company Maxwell’s.

Expansion for TrianglePR

AmericaPR, which began as TrianglePR two years ago, is launching its second market on March 12 with CharlottePR (www.charlottepr.com). Dianne Chase will head the office, a former broadcast journalist.

According to Rebecca Antonelli, the company’s founder, Charlotte-area businesses will benefit from the same quality of service and experience as Triangle businesses.

TrianglePR, unlike many marketing firms in the Triangle, thrived during the recent economic downturn, says Antonelli. “We’re an alternative to the high-priced retainer PR firms,” she says. “When the economic climate went south for most businesses, they had to look for a less expensive way of getting the same thing done. We consider ourselves a wholesale PR firm.”

Antonelli thinks the entrepreneurial spirit of Charlotte will attract just the right clients for CharlottePR: “With the increased demand we’ve seen for our services in the Triangle, we want to help as many people as possible ride out this economy. Expanding to other markets will accomplish this.”

See previous LTW article on marketing and communications firms “battling back from the abyss”: http://www.localtechwire.com/article.cfm?u=258