Sally Whittle poses the question: "Who needs PR agencies, exactly?"
Is any headline as likely to cause a feeding frenzy? [Well maybe one is more likely]
Her point is summarized as:
So, here’s my question: what do these companies miss out on by not working with a PR agency? I must admit, as a hack, I love the idea of not needing to go through that intermediary when I’m following up a story. But I’m not an expert in what PR agencies do over and above this stuff, so I could easily be missing something.
So what does a fat monthly retainer get you?
Having spend many years in an agency, and even more outside, it’s a great question.
[For this discussion we’re assuming PR is press relations rather than the broader Public Relations definition.]
Hiring a good PR firm, that will do a great job for your business is hard. Full stop. PR is about people and good people are hard to find.
But there are also a wide array of different approaches to PR management.
At one end of the spectrum you have the "complete in-house" model and at the other you have the "completely out-source" model and there’s a lot of wiggle room in between.
If you’ll forgive the rash generalizations:
- In-house staff often bring more company and product-specific knowledge and sometimes more passion – a much underrated quality.
- Agencies often bring valuable perspective and potentially a broader reach into the media market.
There’s obviously more than that, but I think it’s a useful way to outline the divide.
In my experience a mix and match approach often works best.
I believe you do need communications expertise in-house, but agencies do provide a useful means of scaling your reach and providing context on what’s going out in the real-world.
So, to summarize I provide the ultimate PR answer: it depends.