We recently wrote a blog highlighting some things to consider when deciding whether a public relations partnership makes financial sense for your business. And although there is validity to the cost benefits of public relations, one of the first things you need to think about is whether a PR agency is a correct route for executing your public relations efforts in the first place, or if it makes more sense for your organization to handle PR in-house.
It might surprise you to know that not every organization to approach us at Flint Group automatically becomes a client. Because, although we love taking on new clients, we also want to make sure that we add value to their PR efforts beyond what they can achieve with an in-house communications team. If your organization is weighing whether to hire an agency or manage PR in-house, ask yourself the following questions:
What are your PR goals?
The first place to start when determining whether to hire a PR agency or handle public relations internally is to map out your specific goals and the capabilities required to achieve them. Here are some common initiatives potential clients are often interested in, and why an agency is (or isn’t) the right choice to help attain them.
- Content Development – Creating content in-house helps ensure the writers truly understand the ins and outs of your business. However, PR agencies have an in-depth understanding of how images, words, videos, and other media fit together to form comprehensive strategies. Just as importantly, they have people who specialize in each of these areas from ideation all the way through to tracking and adapting for future campaigns.
- Social Media – Many companies enjoy the flexibility and control that comes with in-house social media management – and they can do so quite effectively. It takes a skilled and dedicated team, however, to maintain consistent engagement and stay on top of the latest social media trends. Partnering with an agency ensures you’re on top of the latest trends, tools, and technologies, and determine which strategies will work best for your brand. Additionally, PR firms with community management experience understand the most effective ways to help amplify your message and build authentic relationships with the people who support, work for, and engage with your brand.
- Employer Branding – There are companies out there that have mastered the art of employee retention and can rest assured they don’t need outside help to attract and retain top talent. For companies struggling to recruit and retain employees, however, an effective PR agency can help attract high-quality candidates, showcase the strengths of your organization and fill key positions. An established agency uses insights gained through years of research and experience to help you create a positive experience for candidates as well as employees.
- Media Relations – It takes a lot of time to build relationships with the media, and those relationships are often the difference between getting overlooked and getting exposure. PR firms have established relationships with journalists and publications that they can leverage to get you the coverage you are looking for. However, an agency works with the information you provide them. If you work in a highly technical field, and you don’t think you’ll have the time to provide an agency with the information required to “get” your brand, it might make sense to keep your dedicated, in-house team on the job.
What is your PR budget?
If you haven’t created a dedicated PR budget in the past – it’s time to reconsider. As Bill Gates once said, “If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations.” That’s because PR is one of the most cost-efficient ways to get your brand story in front of an audience.
Like any financial decision, when budgeting for public relations, consider what you want to achieve through public relations efforts and the timeline in which you want to achieve it. If you have a team in place that can achieve those goals within those parameters, it might not make sense to hire an agency. However, if you don’t already have a team in place or you want fast results, consider collaborating with a PR partner. Creating an in-house team takes time and money; salaries are high when you are looking to hire experienced marketing professionals. Even if your in-house team wears multiple hats, it’s almost impossible to find individuals who are experts in multiple disciplines. From copywriters to social media experts to graphic designers and more, hiring an experienced PR agency gives you access to the best of the best in multiple departments.
What is your PR strategy?
Now, this is an important one, because if your answer to this question is “I don’t know” or “We don’t have one,” then this is going to be a quick conversation. You need to hire a PR agency. Stat.
A good PR agency works with you to define your goals and determine the most effective strategy to achieve them. When partnering with an established PR agency, you’ll work with a seasoned team with proven skills and varying years of experience.
A hybrid approach to PR
If you’re still on the fence about how best to manage your public relations initiatives, there’s good news – you don’t have to choose between one or the other. Many organizations have an in-house marketing manager or PR team who works in collaboration with an external PR agency. Pairing the two unites your team’s in-depth company knowledge with an agency’s expertise and resources. Choosing an agency that will operate as an extension of your team eases your employee’s workloads while bringing in a fresh, new PR perspective.
If you’d like to find out whether a PR agency would add value to your organization’s PR strategy, contact one of our experienced PR professionals today and let’s talk.