When it comes to most startups, they are usually after the same goal, to establish themselves as a leader in their industry. To achieve this goal, startups have to allocate some of their resources to figuring out how to handle their brand’s reputation, which of course means finding an effective communications strategy team. This leads startups to the choice of deciding on whether to create their own public relations team (in-house) or get help from an agency (external team) in order to meet this goal. After all, any business that aims to be the best has to have a great strategic team that can handle all aspects of publicity for the brand. Still no matter the choice there are pros and cons to having either an in-house or external public relations consultant.
Types of PR Services
If you are a first-time business owner you may be wondering what types of services a public relations team might handle, and well it varies but the most typical are
- Strategic Counsel
- Event Planning
- Crisis Management
- Reputation Management
- Media Relations
- Social Media Management
- Market Research
- Content Creation (Press Releases, Speeches, Copywriting)
As you can see a team of people with expertise in these departments will be a valuable asset to your overall company’s success. This is especially true when it comes to communication strategy, understanding your audience, and providing you with counsel when it comes to brand messaging. Now that you understand the value of having some type of public relations counsel it is time to dive into the strengths and weaknesses of external and internal PR consultants.
In House Advantages
Some of the advantages of in-house PR work include the extended time and dedication put into your specific campaign since there are no other clients to worry about. That means that work done is more specific and individualized since the team working already knows the brand and what works best for positioning them. Some additional advantages include:
- Higher focus on brand awareness: If someone from your company leads the public relations team then their understanding of the brand will act as the main catalyst for their innovative strategies that will help create growth by aligning your business brand and voice to create a cohesive plan across all teams.
- Budget: An in-house team is an economical solution for many companies since they just need to allocate money to a new company branch instead of having to take additional time to look for an agency and having to figure out other budgeting matters in order to meet that outsourced team’s price tag.
In House Disadvantages
Still like all things, having an in-house team can also have a few drawbacks such as burnout. Depending on the size of the team that was established and if they are also in charge of other departments it can come to a point where the workload the person receives exceeds their capacity. This usually results in a slower process and fewer results. Here are some other disadvantages to be wary of:
- Stagnation: Stagnation created by lack of creativity can be a big problem for many internal teams. Although you get full control of an in-house team that also means that your team does not receive the beneficial exposure of new perspectives. Since everyone working on the campaign has the same mindset, it can be hard to come up with new, fresh angles that set you apart from competitors. This complacent mindset can be hard to combat if there is no plan in place to counter this pause in creativity.
- Resources: Another setback has to do with the type of resources your internal team has available to them. If they do not have a person with the right contacts or access to certain public relations programs that streamline earned media acquisitions that can result in a big exposure and financial loss since those types of programs are costly.
As for an external PR agency they have experience working with various brands and competitors so they know what different audiences react to best and how to best position your campaign in the public eye to outshine competitors. Some additional advantages include:
- Connections: An external agency can help you connect with their current and past clients for campaigns, as well as get you beneficial press coverage and build ties with key media contacts.
- New Perspectives: Thanks to the diverse perspectives that come from an external team that has the ability to work on different accounts, this team will always be on top of industry trends which will lead to new perspectives.
The downside to external public relations agencies as previously mentioned has to be the lack of control and intimate knowledge of the brand. Meaning that although a specific team with great resources might be assigned to you they are not necessarily that selected agency's top team. Additionally, since this assigned team doesn’t know the ins and outs of your company they can only work off of the information you provided for them. Some more disadvantages include:
- Cost: The amount of time an agency spends on your campaign is directly correlated with how much you paid for their service or time agreed upon.
- Time: Using an agency can be time-consuming in the beginning for two main reasons. The first is of course the search for the ideal candidate and the second is the onboarding process. You need sufficient time to explain your expectations, define your brand, discuss deliverables, talk about timelines and inform the agency of any upcoming changes or projects that your company is expecting.
- Communication Issues: With an agency, there are specific people in charge of different aspects of a campaign which means that sometimes information can get misinterpreted. This can create unexpected setbacks due to a lack of proper communication between your own brand and the agency.
Now that you understand the benefits and drawbacks of in-house vs external public relations agencies you can feel more at ease when deciding on whether to create your own public relations team where you are in full control or outsourcing to an agency where experienced creatives will help grow and refine your brand through the network and expertise.