You Can’t Outsource Public Relations

There’s no such thing as outsourcing PR. If your business decided to wash its hands of everything related to PR in favor of the external counsel provided by an agency, then you’re probably getting little more in return than a handful of Mad Lib-style press releases replete with industry jargon and corporate buzzwords (i.e. revolutionary, innovative, synergy, etc.).

Clients pay the PR agency for the benefit of that agency’s experience, ability to “get ink” and aptitude for cultivating mutually beneficial relationships. But that doesn’t mean that clients can simply hand the agency the keys to the car and say, “we’ll see you at the end of the quarter.”

Although it might seem counter-intuitive,employing the talents of an agency actually increases the client’s responsibility to PR processes. When you choose to work with a PR agency, you are not delegating a task or business function; you’re committing yourself to a collaborative relationship. Ultimately, the success of the PR campaign hinges on the quality of that relationship.

The client-agency relationship is inherently symbiotic. The client relies on the agency’s ability to provide perspective that is difficult or even impossible to see from within the company. Conversely, the agency relies on the client to provide an exclusive, panoptical view of their business.

The most successful PR campaigns result from cooperation between a strong in-house team and a talented agency. Now, when it comes to the client-agency relationship, you hear a lot of negative criticism about the head-nodding ways of spineless PR flacks who withhold council and instead let the client tell them exactly what to do. Let’s be clear, “head-nodding” does not denote cooperation. Clients, your PR agency, if it’s worth your money, will give you push-back. If it seems like your demonstrating exemplary PR skills because your agency is constantly telling you how spot-on you are, then there’s something wrong.

So, if you’re looking to outsource your PR because you simply don’t have enough time or resources to handle it in house, then you (and the agency you choose) are doomed from the start. A PR campaign can only be as good as the client-agency relationship from which it was conceived.

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