Recently, I was posed the question “for start-ups looking to undertake a dedicated public relations campaign what works best - hiring in-house PR experts? Or, outsourcing to agencies who specialise in PR?”.
Unfortunately – whether in a university, business school or company – for those looking for a simple ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ to the question of hiring an agency, I can’t give one. Dedicated PR campaigns are complex, and a wide range of factors come in to play when to make them a success – there’s certainly not a one size fits all approach for media campaigns, and it is important to be strategic in deciding what you hire an agency for, and what you can do successfully in-house.
In-house and agency - the perfect mix
It’s incredibly important to have an in-house comms team, there’s certainly no doubting that. In-house teams are often solely dedicated to PR campaigns, with all their focus and time being spent working towards strategic goals and getting key messages out there. Not only this, but in-house teams initially set the goals, know their ambitions, know what is valuable to the organisation and know what they want to achieve from media outreach – their whole role is embedded in the organisation.
However, a successful media campaign, from personal experience, comes through utilising the skills of both in-house comms teams and expert, specialist PR agencies. If an in-house team knows their goals and ambitions from media outreach, and is able to portray this to a specific agency, then a media relations campaign has a much higher chance of being successful, impactful and delivering clear ROI.
Connections, consultancy and creativity
An outsourced, specialist agency, if you hire the right one, can really take a media relations campaign to the next level. Using communications experts who have real knowledge of the industry they work in can give you access to numerous connections and journalist contacts that previously would have been unimaginable. The connections and potential for securing media coverage in competitive media publications is exactly why a media agency is necessary for a dedicated PR campaign to be as successful as possible.
Not only this, but agencies offer an external voice of reason to campaigns, offering insight into what would work in the media, what is going on with other competitors in the wider industry, what is the best approach for securing media coverage – the best agencies really will offer consultancy and an advisory role, offering new and innovative ideas to securing media coverage.
And with this consultancy role, a media agency will offer new-found creativity in this space. You don’t just pay for the industry and journalist connections, but for new and creative methods of engaging them, and advice and consultancy on ways to approach the media, and what key messages will resonate the most with your target audience.
Immediate ROI for a campaign
That’s why, when looking to potentially bring in a new comms member, and expand your in-house team, it may be a good idea to look beyond an internal, in-house hire, and consider the possibility of hiring an agency team instead. Not only do you often get a large, expert agency team, for the price of a new hire, you get to work with a specialist, knowledgeable media team who can engage straight away on a project without having to learn the goals, strategies and ins and outs of a whole organisation (as long as the in-house professionals can relay these well).
You’ll be able to ensure immediate ROI from an agency, reaping the rewards of a specialist agencies’ industry connections, unique and creative approach to engaging media, wider industry knowledge and advice, and years of experience in the sector.
It’s safe to say the investment in a media agency, if done correctly, is about more than just media coverage, and can secure you with industry knowledge and a foot in the door with on numerous publications and industry connections.
So, if you’re looking to expand your communications team further, why not look into hiring an agency. Have a look at the services an agency offers its clients, and get a better understand of how they can work as an extension of the internal team.