PR ON THE GO October 30, 2022

Hiring an External PR Service Provider Vs Inhouse

Pros and Cons

We asked our PR and growth experts: What are the pros and cons of hiring an external PR agency or PR contractor versus hiring employing an inhouse PR person?

What is the best decision for the growth strategy of startups and growing brands? See the expert advice here:

Access and Budget

Andrea Sok, Owner at SOK Influencer PR

"There are two main differences between an inhouse team member and a contractor: access and budget. Your PR contractor has limited access to your team and is undoubtedly missing out on potential story angles to pitch and newsworthy events to share by purely not being involved in the day-to-day. Likewise, as the small business entrepreneur you have limited access to your PR contractor. You are not their sole client. Which leads to the question of budget. You may have the budget to hire someone inhouse, but does that budget call for the experience level your business needs?"

Boutique Firm For Fast Access And Network

Emily Reynolds Bergh, Founder of R Public Relations Firm

"I have worked for both in-house and agency and now own a boutique firm. I think there are pros and cons for sure to all of them. In-house pros is someone who knows your brand and is there to capture what is needed in real time, however the con is pitching yourself is not as effective often the pick up to pitches is lower. The agency may not have someone who knows the brand as well so you MUST spend time onboarding that POC like you would any other employee, and the pro is there is usually a high breed of editorial ops here as there are various clients that they are negotiating stories for. Boutique firms usually have a little bit of both, the just right sauce if you ask me!"

Employing Is An Investment

Evan Nierman, CEO and Founder of Red Banyan

"Hiring a PR person as an employed team member is an investment. Your PR employee will work directly with company personnel who need their assistance and develop relationships, become personally familiar with the business’s culture, way of doing business, goals and lingo. Outside contractors can be pricey and are not always in tune with a company’s needs if there is a communication breakdown. On the other hand, an outside contractor can be a godsend if he or she is able to pick up specific, clearly-defined tasks like social media that are continually falling through the cracks."

Look For Biggest Impact Of Resources

Meg Prejzner, CEO & Founder of Hackett Brand Consulting

"When small businesses are considering hiring marketing team members - including PR support - in-house v. external support, it is often a question of where can my resources have the biggest impact. When you hire a PR service provider or agency, you often have a team of people supporting your brand for less than the cost of a single employee. You also have access to their connections with reporters, and the additional knowledge base beyond a single person to tap into. It can be very beneficial to have a team behind you and the results reflect this. Of course, when you hire externally, you (or another member of the team) will have to manage the partner by keeping them informed of company news & happenings, conducting interviews and writing that is secured by the PR pros, and other day-to-day tasks of leading the team as a good partner.

This is where hiring an internal person has its benefits over a team at an agency. I have been on both the brand and agency side and know first-hand that if you hire the right internal person, they will not only know how to pitch you to the media the way an agency partner does, but you often have people who live & breathe your brand. Of course, the con to an internal person is that they are just one person and may not have the resources of a full team. And the cost of hiring an internal team member often extends far beyond hiring a PR agency or partner.

Ultimately, you can be incredibly successful with a PR partner or internal team member, and it's all about finding the right fit for your business within a budget that fits your growing brand!"

Objectivity By Externals

Todd Ramlin, Manager of Cable Compare

"Hiring a PR service provider has paid off in my experience. For starters, hiring from the outside has saved me money and it is always refreshing to know the experience they have. One of my favorite traits about hiring from the outside is they are objective. They don’t know anyone at my office and vice versa. This is great whether they are working on press releases or social media accounts–the hands-off approach and unbiased qualities they bring with them are advantageous. This is also a disadvantage, however. Objectiveness can also hinder them from knowing anything about the company. This is why it’s uber-important to do the necessary research in hiring a PR service provider."

Time-Efficiency From External PR

Sean O'Neal, President at Onclusive

"Hiring an outside PR service can save you money in the short term, and you should do so if you still don't have all your ducks in a row. You can use their knowledge, resources, and experience right away. Spending a little more at this point for your business is much more cost-and time-effective than putting up an ad, finding applicants, interviewing them,and taking a chance on people that you may possibly not work well with."

Higher Learning Curve With PR Agencies

Jeff Romero, Founder of Octiv Digital

"The hiring procedure and assembling a team to handle marketing and public relations may be difficult depending on the type of your business. Most businesses prefer to outsource part of these procedures and activities, which is why they use PR agencies. They are aware that others can complete the task more effectively and better, after all. Businesses would benefit more from learning about best practices, PR trends, and the current media landscape from PR agencies. I believe that they adopt a much broader perspective than an internal team. This is so that they may deal with PR in various markets and businesses. As a result, it makes sense to work with a PR firm led by seasoned experts."

More Media Connections From PR Agencies

Bhargav Bavarva, Founder of NextPinnacle

"First things first, media relations are the foundation of PR. Failure to establish trusting bonds can mean the difference between your story receiving media attention and being ignored. You can establish more and better media contacts by working with PR services, who have experience in this area. They are more likely to develop ties with media experts because they are more involved in the business than most brands. I believe that these connections can be leveraged to later build a media database. Mutually beneficial relationships can do wonders for your media relations. After all, media professionals can disregard an email sent from an unfamiliar organization. They would, however, probably be more intrigued to open an email if it contained the name of a well-known PR firm."

Objective Creation Of News Value From External PR

Hamza Usmani, Head of Content at SEO-Audits.io

"The personnel of a public relations firm is professionals in their specialty. In addition to writing, they are also skilled in social media, public relations, branding, and special events. They are familiar with PR. They are skilled at positioning a customer to get the most attention. They are able to reach out to the media. They are aware of which reporters will cover different subjects and how to arrange a story for the media. An interview is not what most people think of when they think about sales. A story won't be published if a reporter believes someone is only attempting to sell them something through it. An experienced public relations professional knows how to structure a story so that it appeals to the reporter's sense of newsworthiness while yet providing a client with marketing value."

DIY Through PR Tech Vs Long-Standing Relationships

Daniel Foley, Founder of Daniel Foley SEO Consultancy

"In-house PR teams: With the help of modern PR technologies like Prowly, even small in-house teams may achieve results that belie their size. In-house teams now have access to sophisticated technologies that allow them to do more than they ever could before, such as creating, sending, and tracking email campaigns; picking the most appropriate media contacts; writing expert-level press releases; running an online newsroom; and more. To assume that public relations firms can accomplish everything for you is a common misconception in the modern era.

PR agencies have more media relationships: It stands to reason that public relations firms would have better and more media relationships after years in the business. As a result of their greater presence in these areas frequented by PR firms and journalists, they have built relationships that can be leveraged in the future. It's important for agencies to know which ones to knock on and which ones to skip. This is a two-way street. If a journalist recognizes an agency's name on a press release, they may be more inclined to read it than if it had come directly from your company. It's as easy as recalling a previous collaboration and recognizing the name."

Externals Main Concern is Public Relations

Megan Young, Marketing Manager at MCS Rental Software

"It might be difficult to assemble a marketing and public relations team, depending on the kind of business you run. When a company needs help with any of these areas, they often turn to a public relations agency for assistance. In any case, they recognise that there are more qualified and efficient alternatives. If a company wants to know about the state of the media, PR best practises, and industry trends, they should consult a PR firm. They look at the big picture, while in-house teams tend to focus on the details. The reason for this is because they deal with public relations for a wide variety of businesses and marketplaces. That's why it's smart to work with a PR firm staffed by veterans in the industry."

Tunnel Vision Vs Fresh Perspective

Trevor Sookraj, CEO of Divisional

"When everything is done inhouse, sometimes tunnel vision can get in the way. While tunnel vision is never good, it can be especially harmful when it comes to PR. Hiring a reputable external PR service can ensure that important details and social factors aren’t overlooked, and they can bring in a fresh perspective. These services also have proven track records of success, and can implement plans quickly due to their expertise, so you can save time and get the best results. However, the best agencies to outsource are often the most expensive, so you have to weigh your options."

Gain A New Perspective On Your Organization, Brand, And Customers.

Zephyr Chan, Growth Marketer & Founder of Better Marketer

"It would be great if you could hire someone to offer you completely frank opinions on your company and its products in exchange for payment. Does that make you cringe? I mean, it really shouldn't! It's always a good idea to get a new perspective on your company, its offerings, and its clientele. Even if it costs a little bit more. An outside firm would be honest about your shortcomings in business ethics and values, even if your internal staff isn't. To increase your company's visibility, most PR firms would try everything, including a complete brand redesign."

Hiring A Niche Specialism PR Contractor

Jane Griffin, Director of Positive Story

"Hiring a niche specialism PR consultant can be better than hiring an in-house PR manager for several reasons. They’ll usually possess a black book full of relevant media contacts based on relationships they’ve been cultivating over a long period of time, have an in-depth knowledge of your sector (saving you time in terms of briefings needed) and are likely to be a lot more experienced than someone a company might be able to afford to hire in a permanent role…And because they have so much experience they’ll usually be able to work mainly unsupervised, be quick workers, and can be hired for just a few days per month on a retainer or on a project basis, saving the company staff costs like pensions etc. I also offer my clients an annual contract for a fixed number of days per year, which they can use as and when they need them, which has proved very popular as it provides them with the flexibility they require but also guarantees my time."

A Holistic Perspective

Tia Campbell, Director of Marketing at Practice Reasoning Tests

"Given its extensive history, the agency is likely familiar with both the industry's successes and failures. Therefore, they will be well-equipped with the knowledge of what is working and what is not in the market. In addition, PR firms learn everything they can about the regional market, current trends, strategies, and the audience's typical routines. It's essentially the staple diet of public relations professionals. They also attend PR events for other companies and sectors to get a more complete picture of the media ecosystem as it exists today and where it may be headed in the future. Public relations firms' holistic perspective might be invaluable in shaping your desired reputation."

Outsource Anything That Is Not A Core Competency

Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder & CEO of Mavens & Moguls

"I started a global branding and digital marketing firm 20 years ago. Outsourcing is usually done to address a skills gap within a business. Outside expertise can be used to solve a problem identified as a hurdle to the next stage of growth. Outsourcing PR allows you to work with resources exposed to the latest tools & trends and a variety of company sizes/industries with experience and a wide breadth of knowledge they can bring into your business. Unless PR is a core competency it almost always makes sense to outsource it because relationships with media outlets matter a lot and small businesses can rarely justify the overhead and expense of someone pitching the media on a full-time basis. A PR resource with a great reputation and rolodex can be very effective with a small budget.

The pandemic forced companies to streamline to survive so outsourcing has increased over the past 2+ years. My advice especially for SMBs is to outsource anything that is not a core competency so that you can focus all your resources on what you do best. I outsource legal, payroll and accounting services for that very reason and put all my energy into building my brand and scaling my business. To avoid problems give your outsource partners the goals to achieve then get out of the way. This is their area of expertise so let them find the path, do not micromanage them it will only lead to frustration. Outsourcing is a smart idea even without a crisis and does not solve all of your growth problems but it sure frees up a lot of time and energy that can be redirected/better spent on things I enjoy doing and can get paid well for."

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