We’re living a world where the internet has taken many “middle men” out of the loop. The world has changed for stockbrokers, for newspapers and for travel agencies, for example. Consumers can now make things happen or get the information they desire online without intermediaries. These forces have had and will continue to have enormous impact on many things we once accepted as normal.
So how has all this affected Public Relations? After all every company can publish their story in a myriad of ways that are read directly by the intended audience. Press releases, once a “PR wire” and paper-based world that went only to members of the press, are now automatically and instantly posted all over the web as news. Can’t we just cut that cost and go it alone?
Not so fast. My view is that PR is just as important today as it’s ever been. Here are 7 reasons you won’t want to fire your firm just yet.
- It’s all about relationships with editors and other press people. If you choose the right PR firm, you will have someone who knows all the right people to talk to and will likely be talking to them frequently if they have many clients in your space. This is kind of an economy of scale in relationships that it would be hard to match through an internal resource. Your internal person will not have something to talk about with the editorial staff of your target publications every week, but it is likely a leading PR firm in your industry will.
- Editors do not want to hear directly from vendors. If every product or service vendor in your corner of the industry called editors directly, they would never keep up. PR professionals are an important intermediary in that they understand the game and often represent several companies the editors write about. Since it’s a two-way street, i.e. editors need the PR folks to help them find end users and interesting stories, the relationship works. This does not exist between editors and the sellers of products.
- PR firms are often the source of great ideas. Each person at a PR firm works with several companies and can share ideas, see what works and what does not and transfer knowledge. An internal PR person does not have this ability. Hence, PR people are often a source of great ideas and tribal knowledge.
- It is easy to “outsource” PR and conserve your internal resources. As you look to conserve internal resources, you tend to look for things that are easily and effectively outsourced. Since PR is a very definable set of tasks, and can be managed remotely, it’s a natural fit for outsourcing.
- PR is often very cost effective. PR is a competitive field and there are quality people in sole proprietorships up to multi-national firms. The right price point exists for you. In addition, you can usually “unbundle” the services, especially with smaller firms, so that you do some of the work yourselves. For example, you may retain a firm with an agreement that you jointly develop the strategy, someone at the company writes the press releases and someone at the PR firms pitches the story to the target list. This lowers the costs and can play to a strength someone on your staff has.
- Your PR firm will have more resources. PR firms have access to tracking tools, databases and other resources that a smaller company could not justify purchasing for themselves. Larger firms can also grab people temporarily from other projects to work on an opportunity at short notice.
- PR firms jumped on the social media bandwagon very early. Chances are good that your PR firm has been executing social media longer than you have. They’ll be better at it and, even if you are planning to do that part of the mix internally, they will be able to get you down the learning curve quickly.
We are all looking for ways to trim our budgets and do more with less. I’d suggest that having a close relationship with an outside PR resource is a way to do more with less. You must match the firm to your needs to be most effective, but that will be the topic of a separate blog.
What has been your experience with outside PR firms? Do you prefer that over an internal resource?
You can connect with Eric on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ericlundbohm/
Follow his updates on Twitter @lundbohm