There is a never-ending debate over whether it's better to have an in-house PR team or to outsource your PR to an agency. There are logical arguments on both sides, but they miss one critical point: you don't always have to choose.
In actual fact, it is often better to have both at your disposal. Let's explore the benefits of working with an outside agency, and how this can be leveraged to achieve better results from your internal team.
Here's Why Companies Hire PR Agencies Alongside In-house Staff
One major reason companies hire outside agencies is that their internal PR team lacks resources. There is often not enough staff to cover all PR needs, so projects get stuck in the early stages but not executed (or not to their full potential).
Segmentation and Specialization
Another factor is segmentation. Even if an in-house PR department has sufficient resources, collaborating with an outside agency helps with specific goals like media relations, investor relations, marketing and crisis management. These agencies work alongside in-house staff but have specific tasks and goals.
This same idea applies to companies with multiple divisions; they might choose to work with a separate agency for each division, as well as a corporate-facing agency. This gives them the advantage of hiring specialists for each division plus a general agency for the corporate office. It's somewhat uncommon (but not rare) for businesses to work with multiple agencies, but it makes sense for giant corporations or companies that need region-specific work.
Finally, hiring external agencies allows companies to laser-target specific problems. For example, one agency can focus on optimal media outreach strategies, while another can concentrate on crisis communications.
In all of these situations, the ability of an in-house PR team to cooperate with an external agency or agencies genuinely helps to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the internal PR team's work. Having the support of outside specialists can also help your internal team grow in confidence and learn new strategies.
What's the Role of In-house Staff If a PR Agency is Hired?
It's a mistake to think that an in-house team is redundant if you work with a PR firm. In-house PR teams are closely plugged into the product, and have tight relationships with the rest of the organization, both of which are important for achieving the best possible results.
Without the participation and insight of the in-house team, it's difficult for even the strongest PR firm to deliver top-tier results.
Now that we've looked at some of the reasons why companies may hire an agency and how they can work alongside an in-house team, let's discuss why this path is likely the right choice for your brand, too.
5 Reasons to Hire a PR Agency
1. You get a fresh, outside perspective.
It's common to believe that you know everything about your industry, your customers, and your market. However, the pressures of running a business, and the need to be focused on their own organization’s goals and objectives, means that many businesses miss out on broader insight.
Hiring an agency infuses an outsider's perspective into your system, and this objective stance makes them more likely to propose bold changes when needed. What’s more, you should find that their proposed methods are typically faster and more effective.
2. You get access to more insights and a variety of expertise.
PR experts often have client rosters that include everything from startups to enterprises, which means they have more established strategies, models and approaches to PR. When it's time to work with a new client, all of that expertise is at their disposal.
As a rule, agencies are typically more in touch with the media landscape and big picture because they spend more time communicating with market experts and attending events and conferences. They also work across industries, giving them a different perspective and allowing them to take a more holistic, broader view of situations.
3. It expands your team with experienced creatives.
With an agency, you have immediate access to entire departments full of talent that you may not have put together yourself, such as designers, copywriters, analysts and media relations. Agencies have dedicated staff for every aspect of communication, which is something that is nearly impossible for in-house teams to achieve because of their workload. Even if the agency doesn't have a staff specialist for a task, they have a pool of reliable, vetted partners who can be called upon if needed.
4. You gain speed, flexibility and quality.
The right PR agency can deliver exceptional results. Their reputation depends on your business doing well, so it's never in their best interests to stall or drag their feet when working toward your goals. The success of one of their portfolio clients (you) translates to the success of future clients. You can expect swift, decisive and confident action when needed. You can also expect top quality and a steady, systematic approach.
5. It gives you a wider network.
A broad network means more opportunities for your company. PR agencies typically have more (and better) media relationships because they have spent their careers cultivating these contacts across many different outlets. Moreover, since they have closer, friendlier relationships with journalists and media contacts, this often translates to better results for your company.
In addition to media relationships, PR agency networks are quite diverse. They have contacts across numerous industries and markets, which means that there are more opportunities for your brand to collaborate with other clients or former clients.
Three Simple Tips For Finding the Right PR Agency For You
1. Work backwards.
Start by searching through the work of top players in your industry, such as big brand names or unicorns. If you find PR activities that you like or that you feel performed well, you can usually backtrack to get the contact information of the PR firm they have hired. You can expand your search outward from there, but this is a great starting point.
2. Ask for recommendations.
Colleagues and partners can be valuable resources when you're looking for a top-performing agency. Even if they are not directly in your industry, the firm they recommend may be able to help you, or at the least, be able to point you to a trusted firm that can achieve the outcome you're looking for.
3. Turn to social media and case studies.
If the first two tips don't yield the results you're after, don't be afraid to turn to social networks. LinkedIn is a great asset when it comes to finding strong candidates, and you can easily seek out reviews and success stories online based on promising social network profiles.