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In-house PR or PR agency?

15-Nov / 0 COMMENTS

Diana Thompson

Reams and reams are written about whether customers are better to use an in-house PR person or an agency. Of course I am partisan, but I do genuinely believe that the agency route is right for most companies.

Clearly any comparison depends on the calibre of the in-house person. You get what you pay for. Recruit at a low level and will you have the contacts, knowledge and advice you want? After all you are entrusting someone with the reputation of the company and it has to be someone you can talk to confidentially, trusting in their integrity and input, especially when it comes to crisis management. If you want someone with seniority and experience it will not be cheap and in addition to salary you have to add in all the other head count and overhead costs.
Agencies tend to have a greater breadth and depth of experience and certainly with Plus Point PR you are dealing always at director level. It is often easier for these outside experts to say “No” to a bad idea – even if it comes from the MD – than it is for an employee to do so.
Agencies charge a monthly retainer because you can’t simply switch coverage on and off, responding to journalists one day and apologising that this is not a paid for period the next! However, in most instances agencies will be the better value route and if it doesn’t work out you normally have only a short notice period to serve and no employment law issues to worry about.
An agency will offer more objective advice and not be sucked in by internal politics. Because they deal with a portfolio of clients they tend to bring a good cross fertilisation of ideas and to have experience of a wider range of issues and opportunities. They are more commercial, more focused on offering you good value for money and a return on investment so that you remain loyal to them.
It is very easy for companies to just “borrow” their in-house PR person for other tasks and not retain the focus and passion that the agency must have to thrive.
All that said when you choose an agency keep these points in mind:

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