There are pros and cons to internal and external public relations, it could be said that much depends upon the size of an organisation, the business it’s in, available resources and the environments surrounding it.
The cost of hiring a PR agency will vary according to its experience, how long it has been established for and the level of service that one requires. Marks and Spencer felt pressures of the economy and had to slash their £144 million marketing budget by 20% in 2008 (Marketing News Admin, 2008), more than enough to put smaller business 6 feet under!
Consultancy fees can start off at £200 rising to thousands per month so some of the best PR doesn’t come cheap, however there are well known benefits in outsourcing, “outside firms can allow the company to benefit from the relationships of the agency, including relationships that involve other PR agencies. The level of experience the organization can gain by using an outside firm can be unlimited” (Scott Young, 2009). External bodies are often located in central areas being close to printers, graphic designers and are well connected with journalists. A consultancy may have a broader range of communication skills but will they have same expertise as an in house PRO?
In house public relations allow for better lines of communication, close proximity can mean efficiency in terms of access to information and decision makers. Jaelithe Milich, marketing communications specialist at clothing company Exofficio, said that her company brought its PR in-house not only for traditional elements but for better collaboration overall.
“We brought PR in-house because we wanted quicker and more efficient interaction with ExOfficio product development and customer service,” she said. “This allows us to react to customer needs, communicate quickly and authentically and accomplish bigger objectives.” (Jennifer Leggio, 2010).
“You must be inside our doors, in the thick of our culture, living and breathing our core values to communicate effectively,” says Leslie Yeransian, creative writer and media coordinator, Rising Medical Solutions.
On the flip side of these benefits a public relations consultancy is able to offer unbiased advice, it is removed from the organisation and will be able to see issues more objectively helping to develop solutions that perhaps an organisation is blinded or biased to.
A consultancy will often have varied experience, the longer it has been established the more expertise and knowledge it has to offer, this experience is greater than that of an individual client. ‘Through interaction with a diverse range of businesses, issues and people, you will learn a lot about the world and you will, without even trying, be presented with a range of opportunities – PR/work-related and personal. You just need to be sensitive to these opportunities and not sleep walk through life’ (Craig Pearce, 2010).
Consultancies are likely to have staff who have received training possessing qualifications and experience, in house could mean an existing executive or manager being promoted to a public relations role without the correct experience. Bombarding journalists with poorly written press releases could form a negative effect, especially if the content seems like one mighty advertisement. Public relations create understanding rather than advertising that generally has the aim of increasing sales.
With in- house PR you can be sure that the job is full time and receiving 100% attention without additional costs, a consultancy will be paid and their time will not extend to anything more than what it is paid for. A client will pay for what they get so a low fee job is likely to receive a less experienced person, though still an in house PRO may have limited experience having worked within a narrow industry whilst the less experienced individual may well have dabbled with a wider variety of communications.
Craig Pearce an award winning PR pro believes that working in a PR agency is one of the most exciting, valuable and positive experiences any PR professional can have particularly in the early years of your career. ‘Agency employees are often perceived as experts; it presents a range of professional and life opportunities; and you are surrounded by peers who understand the discipline and provide excellent support. After having worked in PR for 16 years, both in-house and ‘in-agency’, I believe working in-house is clearly where one can make a more significant difference to an organisation and its stakeholders, as well as being a more rewarding environment in which to work’.
Overall in house seems to be more cost effective; more secure and according to figures on the CIPR website offers higher salaries.
Average annual salaries by role:
PR/account executive 22154 19417
PR/account manager 37273 29237
PR/account director 61727 53776
Managing director/CEO 57069 70356
Research reflects that being part of an agency can be less lonely and present far more opportunities for personal development. We should consider our technological environment has changed and is continuing to do so at a rapid rate affecting how public relations and what public relations is today. A study of Britain’s 100 leading PR agencies, carried out in 2008 by internet marketing agency Bigmouthmedia, revealed that 79% of those surveyed had yet to develop online and social media services, while only 21% included online PR as part of their service.
To find out about the top 150 consultanvies click here http://toppragencies.prweek.co.uk/Aurora.aspx