PR agency vs in-house PR team: 4 things you need to consider before choosing
Reading time: 5 minutes
Many companies are clear why they need PR – it radically increases your visibility and credibility by getting respected third parties to talk about your story. Following through and generating that earned media coverage and greater awareness is another thing altogether. How do you get your relevant and exciting news out there to your target audience? Do you hire someone new to take on the challenge or hire a PR agency? Here are a few points to consider:
Knowledge and expertise
Many people think that PR is about creating press releases and sending them out using wire services or email lists. Sure, this is ONE small piece of the process, but a structured, long-term PR strategy is what’s going to generate greater awareness which will support your growth and align with your business goals.
PR is an intricate art. There are specific strategies, tactics, and techniques you need to utilize to accomplish your business and PR goals. Building the process that goes behind a good PR strategy takes expert knowledge. Do you know what things you need to take into account and how you’re going to do it? If not, then it’s going to cost you double the amount of time, effort, and money, as you’ll be spending time learning the processes that you could have spent on other essential business functions while not getting great results. This is where hiring a PR firm can help you.
With a PR agency, you don’t just buy the knowledge of one new person; you buy the minds of a whole team. You suddenly have a set of seasoned professionals who know PR inside-out and how to get the job done. Depending on your target markets, having a local PR agency with on-the-ground knowledge and an understanding of the local media can be invaluable.
On the other hand, while PR agencies know how to do PR inside-out, no-one understands your business better than you do. You know how your product benefits your target group and how it’s going to change the world, but communicating this knowledge in the proper way to an external third-party with no obligation to write about you can be tricky and time-consuming.
Many of us are strapped for time nowadays meaning we have to spend it in the most efficient way possible. This often means that PR gets left by the wayside when it should be as important as your other business functions.
If you know you’re not in a position to build and implement your long-term PR strategy as well as execute the time consuming manual effort work it takes to write, pitch, and distribute your news, offload the work to someone else. PR agencies are designed to do most of the heavy lifting away from your company. They have the expertise, templates, processes, and resources in place to efficiently turn your funding, product launch – whatever it is – into something newsworthy and worth sharing.
However, you won’t be able to offload the work to the agency completely – it will still require time from your company. Constant communication is essential when parting with your cash. You wouldn’t hire a new team member to shut them then out completely. It’s the same with PR agency – think of them not as an agency, but as an extension to your team. Keep your expectations voiced, analyze the results regularly (but don’t micromanage), and don’t abandon them no matter how busy life gets.
Time is money. Do you know how valuable your time is? Have you ever sat down to work it out? One thing that’s for sure, PR agencies know exactly how much their time is worth, and they can charge handsomely for it. However, not all agencies are created equal. Some may charge fixed price projects, while others may demand cash by the hour. Don’t be afraid to negotiate your deal to best suit your needs!
Don’t forget the price of the tools you need to get the job done. Just like in marketing and sales where you need CRMs, ERPs, analytics dashboards, etc., PR needs its own set of tools to generate and measure success. Take into account that when you’re hiring a new person or want to do PR in-house, you also need to budget for a set of tools on top of their salary. PR agencies, on the other hand, have most of these licenses in place and are often included in their packages.
One of the most commonly cited reasons as to why companies should hire a PR agency is the idea that you get their fat-stack of juicy media contacts. And yes, journalists do sometimes reach out to PR agencies they have come to know and trust, sending requests for interesting news opportunities or companies they should keep an eye out for. While these statements are true, don’t rest all your laurels on this for instant success.
You can’t expect your PR agency to have go-to contacts in every single industry. The best PR agencies are the ones who work alongside you to develop new and tight relationships with the media and influencers. Good agencies don’t just work to improve their lists; they work to make sure the relationships they build with journalists are for your brand so that it’s your brand that sticks with the journalist, not theirs.
Also, the contacts the PR agency already has might not find your news particularly interesting. Or it might be that they have other scheduled stories which don’t align with your news this time around. These things happen – that’s why it’s earned media, it’s not guaranteed!
If you want to do PR in-house, then you need to set aside the time to start a dialogue with these journalists, get to know them, find out their beat. You have to gain their trust and respect. You have to earn the right for them to talk about you. A PR newswire service just isn’t going to cut it if you want to get the best results.
Whichever way you slice it, ultimately the choice has to fit your currents needs best and which also supports your long-term growth plan. Whether this means taking on some new staff to create a PR team or working with a PR agency, make sure you have everything you need to take your story to the next level.
If you want to work with a flexible, skilled, and international team of PR professionals who care about working closely with your team and generating increased awareness for your company, get in touch.