Tom Murphy – Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy blogging about PR and other things since 2002…

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Who needs the PR overhead?

January 17th, 2008 · 2 Comments · Public Relations

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. :-)

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