When you’re choosing between hiring a PR agency or using in-house public relations for your business, it is essential first to understand what public relations entails. Public relations is the process of attempting to influence and persuade members of a business’s public, including shareholders, existing and potential customers, to view your brand positively. This is done by showcasing the brand’s beliefs, strategies, activities, and accomplishments. PR efforts can be carried out in-house or outsourced to PR agencies.
PR efforts include corporate communications, media relations, social media, content creation, writing speeches and quotes, or holding events. In the past, PR generally predominantly involved having press agents generating publicity for a business. While it does still include generating publicity, the PR world has evolved to include developing strategies to influence how a company is perceived. Moreover, good PR is supposed to create multiple ways to form and reinforce positive perceptions.
Firstly, it can be used to communicate with employees, customers, shareholders, or the media about anything going on with the business. This includes crisis communications when trying to diffuse a situation. Public relations functions are supposed to aid in developing trust and credibility among essential people in a company. Good PR assists in raising awareness about a company and allowing it to define, control, and distribute its message to both internal and external audiences. Practical public relations functions may also assist a business in advertising itself, communicating during a crisis, and defending its reputation from media attacks.
While media representation is a part of crisis communication, a public relations department is responsible for creating a crisis communication plan and training leadership and staff on its components. In order to be effective, a crisis communication plan typically determines specific logistics for expected reporters and names an official crisis spokesperson, first and foremost. This communications plan should also develop targeted messages for internal and external audiences, and train company leadership to handle challenging or hostile questions.
Second, PR can be used to develop positive, mutually beneficial relationships with media professionals. You can do this by answering any questions, establishing a positive perception, countering misinformation. Ultimately, the goal is always to protect the business reputation.
Additionally, PR is used to reach out to existing and potential consumers who use social media regularly by producing materials that support positive public perceptions. With the rise of social media, a PR specialist is now also responsible for the online representation of their clients. If a client has a blog, Facebook page, or Twitter account, the PR firm should have access to it; if they don’t, the firm should create one. In contrast to press releases, social media presence is easily accessible by the general public. As a result, the agency doesn’t have to worry about sticking to the news format or looking biased on behalf of the client. This is because no one expects a brand not to brag about themselves on their blog. Social media updates should be written as though the information is coming directly from the client.
Finally, PR is about making sure that comments from the company executive align with the company’s desired message. These executive messages can be shaped by writing speeches, quotes, and holding events.
A good PR strategy also involves the preparation of printed and electronic publications. Company newsletters, blogs, speeches, and annual reports are all examples of content created by a public relations department. A letter to employees from the CEO, for example, could be written for another member of a company. A public relations department will frequently collaborate with another department to ensure content like this is consistent with the company’s overall messaging. A public relations department, for example, might cooperate with advertising and marketing departments to create a description, report, or other pieces of material for a new product or service.
Once you understand what PR is supposed to do for their business, it is then time to study the positives and negatives of doing in-house PR and hiring a PR agency. Let us first look at the benefits of hiring a PR agency.
1) Having more media relationships
First things first, PR is all about creating media relationships. Failure to develop positive relationships is can make the difference between gaining media coverage and your story being overlooked. Thanks to the experience that PR agencies have, you can get more and better media contacts. Since they are more active in the industry than most brands, they are more likely to form relationships with media professionals. These relationships can later be used to create a media database. Mutually beneficial relationships can work wonders for your media outreach. After all, it’s true that media professionals may ignore an email sent from a company they have never heard of. However, they would most likely be more interested in opening an email if they see the name of a familiar PR agency attached to it.
2) PR is their focus
Depending on the nature of your company, going through the recruiting process and putting a team together to do marketing and public relations might be a struggle. Businesses generally hire PR firms because they might outsource other processes and tasks. After all, they know that other people can do it better and more efficiently. PR agencies are better informed about the current media landscape, best practices, and PR trends. They take a much more comprehensive view of things than an in-house team because they work with PR across multiple industries and markets. As a result, it is a good idea to hire a PR agency filled with experienced pros.
3) Provides a fresh perspective
If you run an established company, you may think that you know everything about your industry, customers, and market. Unfortunately, if you’ve been focused on product development and client acquisition throughout the life of your brand, then PR may not be your strong suit. On the other hand, startups and companies that are starting a new brand may not have a complete idea of their media outreach. Without experience, you may make mistakes and waste time while you go through trial and error. For this reason, you can turn to PR agencies that provide fresh outside perspectives. These unique perspectives can bring new ideas that both established companies and startups may not have thought of. PR agencies are more likely to propose bold changes than in-house PR teams. After all, you hire a PR agency to boost your brand image and try something new.
Ultimately, when PR agencies work, they truly deliver results. Senior business development and marketing teams who recognize this engage hungry PR firms, are focused, and have a clear and proven commercial and creative drive, ensuring that the campaigns they produce deliver consistently. Indeed, there’s a lot to be said for the degree of outcomes that businesses can achieve when they hire a PR firm to execute a powerful and engaging PR brief that strikes the right balance.
For those looking to gain media coverage and gain a fresh perspective, Pressfarm is a great way to go. Pressfarm works with startups and companies to create newsworthy content. This content ranges from email pitches and press releases to guest posts and press kits, and is either distributed to media professionals or on branded channels. Pressfarm’s media database of over 1 million media contacts is perfect for companies that need help finding their ideal media match. The team at Pressfarm will also help with online media distribution that helps your brand feature in relevant search results on multiple search engines.
Let us now look at how hiring an in-house PR team can benefit you if hiring an agency isn’t the right fit for your business.
1) Know the business and industry
A significant benefit to using an in-house PR team is that they have more knowledge about your company, brand, customers, and audience than any external PR agency. After all, you may need to educate a PR agency about all the information necessary and monitor their work to ensure that it aligns with your brand message. However, an in-house team cannot make any mistakes when talking about their own company. This is an important advantage, especially if your company is involved in a highly technical field or a particular niche with jargon and complex concepts.
2) Works closer with rest of company
If a PR project is quite large, then it can involve lots of meetings, revisions, discussions, and feedback. By hiring an in-house PR team, communication through the entire process is a lot easier. Ultimately, completing the whole project is faster and easier. Working with an outside agency means that there are different levels of management, writers, and people, which means that speed, efficiency, and agility may be slower.
3) Always top priority
Since PR agencies are working with multiple industries, their team usually has to spread time and attention across many clients. For this reason, it is possible to feel like you are not getting the priority you deserve. When you work with an in-house PR department of your own, it is easier to get updates how things are going and get answers to questions.
4) Can save money
PR agencies can be pretty expensive, depending on what services and tools they provide. The average cost can be about $3,000-5,000 a month, although some may deliver cheaper packages. If your company’s budget is small, an in-house PR team may be the best solution because they may perform the same services as an outside PR agency.
Adequate in-house public relations staff is a true force to be reckoned with. At their best, they’re commercially focused, ruthless, and analytical in their campaign planning. They have a clear and unwavering understanding of the company’s commercial strategy and all the key people who make it work. They understand the company’s inner workings like no other department. Furthermore, they have unparalleled access to everyone from the shop floor to the CEO, and have an intuitive awareness of the products and services on offer – and how to best put them in the market. The most effective in-house PR teams run the show like a fast-paced newsroom. They generate rolling KPIs and campaign metrics and an unrivaled awareness of the media with which your company should be interacting.
Choosing between an in-house PR team and an external PR agency can be stressful. However, with this list, you can make the best decision for your brand.