The PR Store: Coming to a Mall Near You

I wasn’t sure if I was reading this story correctly. A Charlotte, NC company called PRS Franchise Systems LLC has opened 13 PR retail stores and has plans for many more.

“And while it’s the first PRstore in Oregon, it might not be the last. The company plans to have 350 stores in operation in the next five years. There were 13 PRstore franchises nationwide in 2006, up from six in 2005, according to”

Of course, much of this is a misguided (and misleading) misnomer since most of the merchandise appears to fall in the realm of off-the-shelf sales and marketing collateral (with a press release and press conference thrown in for good measure).

“Prices range from rock bottom to mid-level. A company logo can cost as little as $600, a screaming deal compared with the near-five-figures top designers charge. Similarly, entrepreneurs can score a basic four-page Web site for $950. All orders can be expedited, adding to the convenience factor.”

No wonder. A visit to the company’s website reveals that its founder never actually worked in our profession.

“Daniel S. Fragen has…managed branch and regional sales and operations teams, and a national distribution division…Other positions include a variety of sales and sales management roles and most recently as Sr. Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Marketing for Elcotel Telecommunications, Inc.”

I guess it was inevitable that someone would try to capitalize on the PR industry’s rising cache among the marketing cognoscenti.

“‘It’s an idea whose time has come,’ says Laura Ries, president of Ries & Ries marketing strategists in Atlanta. ‘A lot of small businesses can’t go to the big guys because their accounts just aren’t large enough, but there’s no doubt that small businesses, in order to grow and become big businesses, need PR,” she says. “It’s like H&R Block with taxes. Most people don’t need a big firm or a fancy accountant — just a little bit of help.'”

Huh? Why not just choose a smaller, specialized agency or consultant? Hey, there’s even a Scottish PR firm called The PR Store.

Oh well. I guess I had hoped that PR’s mass merchandising emergence would have followed in the mode of a McKinsey and Bain versus a Wal-Mart and Dunkin Donuts. How does one package intellectual capital for the masses, anyway?