“Should I hire a PR agency or just hire someone internally?” This is a question I hear often working on the business development side of things, and it’s one that took me several years of agency experience to fully understand how to answer.
From a company perspective, there are major differences between hiring an agency and hiring an individual or multiple people in-house to oversee PR, and pros and cons for each. If your organization is weighing whether to hire a PR agency versus keeping or adding PR in-house, consider the following:
A team versus an individual
When partnering with a PR agency, you’ll most likely work with a dedicated account team of several people within the firm who have varying years of experience and different areas of expertise.
Typically, you’ll have an account lead who is responsible for developing ongoing strategies and ensuring the overall success of the partnership. This individual is usually a seasoned PR pro. Working alongside them is often someone with 3-5 years of experience who handles a lot of the daily execution (media pitching, influencer outreach, social media content drafting and posting, etc.), as well as a more entry-level individual who manages the administrative side of things (media monitoring, pulling KPIs for client reports, researching and creating press lists and influencer lists, etc.). This team works in tandem to ensure the ongoing success of the partnership.
You’ll also most likely get to work with people from different backgrounds and life experiences to help develop and deploy well-rounded strategies that will resonate with different target audiences. Your dedicated account team can and should also set up brainstorming sessions with the entire PR firm, so you get the brainpower of an entire agency thinking creatively on your brand’s behalf.
Worried about not having someone internal to consistently meet with and check in on status updates? No fear! A PR firm should be in communication with you on a daily basis, share secured media opportunities in real time, and attend weekly or bi-weekly status meetings to share progress and deliverable updates.
Breadth of experience
As with most professional services industries, agency life is fast-paced and results-driven, and employees have the opportunity to work with a varied portfolio of clients and on projects that require a wide range of skills.
Agency life allows PR professionals to gain a ton of experience in a short period of time. For example, if you hire an agency to help your company with a grand opening event, you’ll most likely have individuals who have overseen PR for ten, twenty or more grand opening events throughout their career. This experience results in quicker and more efficient strategizing and execution. Internally, if your team has not previously planned any grand openings, you may have to factor in a lot of background research and start from scratch to get the ball rolling.
Most agencies will have close and positive relationships with the media. This can include the local media where the agency is based as well as industry-specific and national media publications and outlets. Agencies spend years building a rapport with the media.
Agencies also work closely with local convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce and networking groups. These relationships can result in your business being featured in newsletters, on social media and included in larger media stories about your local community.
Last, but certainly not least, many agencies will also have great relationships with local, regional and national influencers. This includes individuals in the lifestyle and beauty, food, and health and wellness spaces, as well as group influencers like local mom and parenting groups. If you’re just diving into the world of influencers, or media in general, it can be an overwhelming place to start. A PR agency relieves that pressure by having established relationships in a number of industries and media.
Agencies typically invest in powerful PR software tools like Muck Rack and Critical Mention to help them research and identify journalists, monitor industry news and track media coverage.
You can and should expect an agency to send you monthly reports that include a detailed overview of all secured media coverage, an overview of pending media opportunities, an overview of completed and pending content deliverables, and a full media coverage tracker with monthly and YTD metrics, including media impressions, ad value, share of voice, web traffic and performance on established goals.
For social media, many agencies also use tools such as Sprout Social to schedule posts and track key performance metrics such as impressions, engagements, link clicks and audience growth.
Some of these resources can be cost-prohibitive for individual companies. An agency has already done the heavy lifting researching different tools and investing time in them to bring that expertise and access to your company.
Interested in learning more about the benefits of partnering with a PR agency? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a time to connect.