Monday, January 28, 2008

PR: In-House or Outsource?

In? Out? Geesh, when it comes to Public Relations and Media Management, most companies (especially start-ups) have to face either hiring full-time in-house personnel or outsourcing the function to a firm. Here are my thoughts on the pros and cons of either scenario:

1. The PROS of an in-house person/staff:
- Lower cost-- decent PR firm will run you $10K to $18K monthly
- You retain the knowledge and control of your industry secrets/advantages
- You own the press/analyst relationships more directly
- Your team is able to respond quicker in case of crisis management or breaking news

2. The PROS of a PR firm:
- Compounded network of their access to industry journalists/analysts
- Their client roster/peer as potential network for your company
- Valuable outside sounding board
- Additional source of new ideas

3. The CONS of an in-house person/staff:
- PR is usually just a sub-set of overall marketing responsibilities
- Less frequent correspondence with journalists than a PR firm will have may lead to missed coverage opportunities
- Being too close to subject matter may limit scope of new ideas

4. The CONS of a PR firm:
- Exhorbitant cost
- Typically most of work delivered by junior-level firm staffers
- Time spent keeping your PR firm updated
- They own the journalist/analyst relationships
- Possible conflicts of interest with their other clients
- Weekly/monthly status reports and other posturing and continuing "sales" activities

Whichever option you decide is best for your business, just make sure your PR professional keeps track of published articles, editorials, press announcements, TV appearances, all coverage your company garners each month. Your person should list these items attached to the monthly invoice along with the time spend making call to try and get speaking engagements and the community relations work performed so that you, as the business owner, can see how much time and relationship building goes into the whole PR and media process.

I figure when my clients see how all these activities add up, they can choose either to handle it themselves in-house (plus run their business which already keeps them overwhelmed), or let me do what I feel I do best.

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