When it comes to PR there’s a choice to be made, do you employ an in-house PR person to take care of your company’s communications or would it be better to hire a PR agency?
As most experienced marketers will already know, it’s not a simple decision. There are several important factors to take into consideration before you take the plunge either way. Although by no means exhaustive, this feature will guide you through some of the advantages and disadvantages of recruiting a PR manager or taking on a PR agency.
Of course, Leapfrog is a specialist B2B PR agency based in Leicester, but that doesn’t mean we are entirely biased. Our team has previously worked in-house in senior PR roles for large companies so we completely understand the dilemma.
Deciding to recruit an internal PR manager may seem to be the right (and most cost-effective) conclusion for your company; however, reading this article before you make the final decision may give you a better perspective.
“If I employ a dedicated in-house PR person working full time for the company it’s cheaper than using an external PR agency. I only have to justify one salary so it’s better for the bottom line.”
On the surface, it may appear to be the more cost-effective solution, but the reality is often very different. Carefully selecting a PR agency with the right pedigree gives you access to not one, but at least three professionals who will work on your account. Unless you choose a one-man band, you will be appointed an executive to work with on a day to day basis, he or she will be overseen by a manager and a director – all assigned to your particular campaign.
Planning and media decisions will be made by the team in consultation with you. Regular face to face meetings will ensure your PR strategy is effective today and stays on track as things change in the future.
Media liaison is the bread and butter of a good agency; they are in constant contact with influential editors and reporters in both online and print media. The agency team also has access to extensive specialist resources such as global media databases, monitoring and measurement tools. These are just some of the additional bonuses you get as part of your package with an agency.
A PR agency will also have a team of specialists with the creative writing skills, digital marketing know-how and digital marketing tools to optimise your online marketing communications most effectively.
“An in-house PR manager can dedicate all of their time to improving our brand awareness.”
One major problem in SMEs is that it is hard for an employee to be focused entirely on PR. The daily pressures of business result in them being pulled from pillar to post, firefighting other marketing or general issues.
If you have chosen your PR agency carefully and the team is well directed they will be totally focused on achieving your goals. A consistent, professional agency approach is more effective than spasmodic offerings from an in-house PR juggling a number of roles.
“My PR manager has their feet on the ground here in the business – they know what’s happening in the organisation and are instantly available.”
That’s all very well, but how senior are they and how well do they know your industry? An in-house PR person needs to be of sufficient status to be respected by the management team. Additionally, they must be well versed in all aspects of your industry, your competition as well as the media.
“I suspect in most companies, the PR person is down at No. 20 in the pecking order. But here, he is fighting incredibly important battles. If a negative story starts running away with itself in the press and is not dealt with fast, it can badly damage the brand, and so we put enormous weight on our PR people.”
Setting objectives and realistic measurements at the start of a campaign will provide a yardstick. This will ensure you can evaluate your PR objectives – whether you are using an internal person or an outside PR agency.
“The press prefer to talk to an in-house person, rather than an agency.”
That is often true – but they won’t be quoting your Press Officer – they will want to talk to your Managing Director. It is of little consequence whether the buffer between your MD and the press is in-house or an agency. Many media types prefer dealing with a reputable agency; they know that we are dedicated professionals who can be relied on to do what we say we’ll do when we say we’ll do it. They also know that agency people are well versed in the unwritten etiquette of the journalists’ world.
One final thought – if you do decide to go the agency route – it’s vital to make the most of your external team. The best way to do that is to set up good communication lines between your company and the selected agency. It is important that the liaison role is at senior manager level to achieve effective results.
Treat your agency like a department of your company, albeit external. Be completely open and honest with them and reap the rewards that the relationship will bring.
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
To explore your options about how an experienced B2B PR agency can expand your horizons, call 0116 278 7788 or fill out the form on our contact us page.