Thirty-year PR agency veteran Grant Common, who founded the trans-Tasman PR agency Network PR, has started a service aimed at helping PR managers better administer their departments as well as their relationship with PR agencies, including the pitch process.

Common closed the Australian operation of Network PR at the end of August 2009, due to what he called “frustrations with the PR agency business and the need to move onto to new things”, renaming the enterprise PR Acumen.

For senior people on the client side, it’s often been difficult to access senior external advice that doesn’t come bundled with a full agency service, Common explained.

“I know from the experience of being on the other side of the fence that many PR directors and managers find it a lonely task, often facing a multiplicity of challenges. These range from running their department, managing external PR agencies, having to sell PR to the CEO and marketing people to fighting turf wars, such as whether social media is a pr or marketing function. But who do they turn to who has the breadth of experience to help?” said Common.

“There are a lot of dysfunctional client/agency relationships in the marketplace, but much of it comes back to client’s simply not managing the relationship as well as they might.”

Common pointed to recent claims in the marketing media claiming 30% of Australian, and 80% of US, advertising pitches are now managed by a third party, saying that PR “follows in the advertising slipstream”.

These claims also prophesied as much as a 20% increase in Australian advertising reviews and pitches in the early part of 2010 as companies refocus after the GFC

“I’m not in conflict with PR agencies. I’m a neutral facilitator who simply wants to bring my extensive experience and knowledge to the table to help PR Departments run better and get the best agency relationship and performance possible,” explained Common.