Public Relations Options
Unlike a pay per click campaign or direct mail campaign where a company may receive instant results and track those results, public relations is a long term investment. It requires time to build up awareness and maintain that awareness. Determining who should be in charge of your company’s exterior image is challenging as there are many things to factor. Whether you need internal communication help or external communication assistance, here are the advantages and disadvantages of PR services:
- Experience: Freelancers generally have experience inside of an agency or as part of an in-house team and are now working on a smaller-scale independently.
- Specific Industry Contacts: Some freelancers specialize in a specific industry (aka food industry) and have built up all the media and social media contacts in that industry. These specialized freelancers typically are “in-the-know” and if your business is in the industry of the freelancer’s specialty, you might want to go this route.
- Cost: Typically, freelancers are less expensive than an agency or an in-house team; however with that can come a smaller pool of resources.
Each freelancer offers a different set of skills and background; it will depend on what the freelancer offers that will determine if they are the best choice for your company. If your company has a limited budget and finds a highly qualified freelancer with experience in your industry, hiring a freelancer might be the best option at the moment. If just starting out, hiring a freelancer allows your company to learn more about its public relations needs without being bound to an in-house staff or agency contract.
- Insider’s Perspective: An in-house public relations expert has the advantage of having an insider’s perspective about how the company operates and overall strengths.
- Time Sensitivity: In-house PR teams are on the ground floor, if a press inquiry comes in for immediate release, an in-house PR executive might be able to respond quicker than any outside source.
- Full Time: In-house teams focus on your project 100% of the time and are never distracted by other projects, clients or pending deadlines.
- Continuity: The in-house team will not change mid-project. With an agency, accounts can be passed off to different members throughout the course of your relationship with them.
- Transparency: When communicating with the media, in-house PR efforts can comment in such a way as to appear as being completely transparent. They can be commenting on projected developments, current practices, or policy changes, and it appears as though the company is not hiding anything.
Potential Downside: In-house PR teams are focused on the company’s industry and practices, which alone could be a type of tunnel vision which is an overall negative quality. Members of an agency can use ideas from other industries and by working on different accounts, may be able to see larger scaled trends and get more results.
It’s typically thought that a large agency will have more defined media contacts, but that is not always the case. A specialized freelancer might have more connections than a large agency.
- Range in services: Full-service agencies typically offer a wider range of services. If you are looking for a one-stop shop that has designers, internet marketing experts, programmers, event coordinators and a writing division, an agency would be your best choice.
- Outside Perspective: An agency’s outside perspective can benefit the development of projects because of the lack of a bias.
- Short Term Contacts: An agency can be hired for particular projects only and actually cost less than an in-house team completely devoted to your PR efforts. (This cost difference will be completely dependent on the type of contract and projects assigned. A larger PR agency can be more costly if they require a monthly fee. This fee can range from a thousand to several thousands of dollars and it is a reflection of the type of projects completed and the amount of agency time required.)
- Market Research: An agency typically has the resources available to conduct market research or may have prior industry knowledge from another one of their clients.
Some companies opt to use a combination of services. British Airways is a prime example of working with both an in-house team and PR agency. They maintain an in-house team as well as contract an agency for more specialized projects. Hiring an agency for specialized projects takes the weight off of the in-house team and is generally used for financial relations, crisis management, or technical support for the production of videos or literature.