Having worked as both an in-house employee and in an external PR agency, I am writing this with my ‘balanced hat’ on.
As a result, I am the first to admit that sometimes an external public relations firm isn’t the right choice for every business! Here are my personal thoughts and advice to help you make the right decision for your business…
So, what factors should you consider before making your choice between internal comms and an external PR agency?
Take this quick quiz to help you decide…
- Do you think the role will require full-time hours?
- Will the PR person need to regularly meet with external suppliers/ contacts?
- Will extensive specialist training be required for the role?
If you have mainly answered ‘A’, then your company may be better suited to employing an internal PR person. If you envisage that the role will cover full-time hours and will require extensive company training, it is likely to be more cost-effective to employ a PR executive.
In addition, an employed PR executive would be better placed to be the ‘face’ of your business if they are required to meet regularly with external suppliers and contacts.
Although this option may be more cost-effective for increased hours, there are also additional factors to take into consideration for an employee. These include paying for their sick days, holidays and ongoing professional development.
In summary, I believe that employing someone is the right choice if you want them to be an integral part of the overall company structure, working within your extended team.
If you have mainly answered ‘B’, then your company may be better suited to working with an external PR consultant or agency. In my experience, taking on an external PR professional normally works out to be more cost-effective if the work is campaign-based or if it can be carried out for up to 2 days per week. They will already have the specialist knowledge, resources and contacts in place, so they can hit the ground running from day 1. It is also worth considering working with an external professional for one-off bolt-on campaigns where their specialisms may boost your in-house PR results further.
Plus, you don’t pay for any holiday allowance, sickness days or ongoing professional development. These should all be covered by the external specialist. The external professional should only charge you for the hours worked on your PR, so there shouldn’t be any wastage of hours, resulting in a more focused approach.
If you are a busy in-house marketing professional with a maxed-out ‘to do list’, outsourcing the PR element may be just what you need to free up a chunk of your time and bring in extra results!
Of course, there may well be more specific factors that your business needs to think about before making a decision. However, my thoughts above give you an initial insight to start you off on your decision-making path.
Most importantly, whichever choice you make, keep reviewing the effectiveness of your PR output, ensuring it continues to bring in the best results for your business…
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Blog written by Emma Estridge, Director at Mushroom Marketing & PR
For further reading, click here to read a journalist’s view on internal vs external comms.