PR - Agency or In-House?
There is a long-standing debate as to whether you get better value from employing an in-house pr or whether there is more value to be had by using a pr agency
Public relations (pr) is a discipline whose finer points are often overlooked or ignored by the events sector. If you have news then getting it out is seldom a problem - you can simply fire off a news release or post a series of social media updates, and there's a good chance they will be published and shared. But to what end? Who is this news aimed at? What do you want this piece of news to do, and more importantly, what is it actually doing?
The answer lies in the complex relationship between you and the audience that’s conducted through the written word, images, diagrams, videos and every other medium you can imagine. Once you start unpicking the features of the fast-developing digital marketing environment, the benefits of a dedicated agency with pr expertise become clear.
7 warning signs that it might be time to find out what an agency could do for you:
- Your news is not appearing in any trade media read by your customers.
- You don't enjoy writing and you're uncomfortable speaking to journalists.
- You know you are doing amazing things, but everyone is talking about your competitors.
- You don't have the skills you need in-house.
- Your news output just isn’t happening, there’s always something more urgent to do first.
- You’d love to hire a complete marketing team but you don't have the budget.
- Social media moves too quickly to stay on top of it. If any of these apply to you, then read on...
Marketing is now the driving force behind most event businesses. There is a general realisation that, in order to survive and thrive in the world of live events, conferences and exhibitions, you have to put your proposition in front of them exactly the right audience at the right moment. To do this effectively you need a specialised and discrete skillset, often beyond the scope of a single person. If you decide to build and keep your entire marketing team in-house, you could easily spend your entire budget on payroll and still not have the entire skillset required. On the other hand, if you outsource all of your marketing, quality, control and oversight become concerns. All industries are struggling with this dilemma, it's not just in the events sector and it’s something that every company, manager, and employee should weigh up carefully. Examining this dilemma, Accenture’s 2013 report, entitled “Turbulence for the CMO,” states that CMOs are looking to mix in-house and outsourced marketing activity, choosing to work with one or more agency partners, citing figures for outsourcing as being “between 45 percent and 75 percent of marketing activities.” When you pick the right outsourcing model for your marketing, you can expect 3 immediate benefits over an in-house solution:
Lower Cost and risk: For the same cost as a qualified individual you get an entire team of experts, with a wide array of skills from pr strategists, professional writers, newshounds, social media specialists, digital marketers, all of whom are now part of the pr agency team and all of them are available to you as a client.
Greater Access: Using an agency that specialises in the events sector will not only give you access to the skill sets but also a deep well of industry and pr experience. Effective pr relies on solid experience spotting news stories, understanding how best to pitch them to the media, and having the contacts and relationships to get your news straight to key editors and decision-makers, rather than ‘lost in the inbox'.
More Time: Recruiting and managing pr personnel takes time. A lot of time. Your agency has already searched for, recruited and trained the right people, and they’re ready to go when you are.
6 reasons to outsource some of your marketing activity.
- Most marketing people cannot do it all. And if they can, they’re likely to be very expensive. An agency provides access to versatile professionals with proven backgrounds in strategy, marketing, content marketing, communications, business strategy, graphic design, digital marketing, and SEO.
- You want your marketing to be agile and flexible. The fixed costs of an internal marketing team are disproportionately large; people, systems, and facilities account for a substantial part of internally managed marketing costs, and a bad hire can easily hurt a company far beyond the simple budgetary cost of the hiring. A quick change of tactic does not require the recruiting of another team member to fill the skills gap, an agency should be flexible enough to manage the change.
- You want your staff to have the freedom to create and innovate. Often sheer expediency causes organisations to sidestep using an agency or hiring experienced in-house marketers, social media personnel, content writers, and SEO experts by just having existing employees double up their roles. Placing the marketing burden onto existing employees (who may or may not be skilled in the area) distracts them from their primary roles, causes workplace stress and saps productivity.
- The best marketing is scalable. When the economy tightens or trading conditions become uncertain, companies tend to cut costs. Marketing is often first in the firing line because it is seen as a ‘discretionary’ expense. Under a traditional in-house operation, the only way you can increase the output of your marketing activity to counter marketing uncertainty is to hire more employees. Agencies already have cross-functional professionals ready to support the fluctuations of your marketing needs.
- You need to stay current on the latest marketing trends to succeed. Agencies operating in the digital world must keep up with progress in messaging technology, trends and techniques. It is, after all, their lifeblood. An in-house marketer is likely to have little time to keep abreast of all the latest developments in social media, SEO, technology, content marketing, and branding. Usually, they will be so deeply buried in day-to-day tasks that there is precious little time to devote to research and learning.
- You benefit from having an external viewpoint. It’s easy for in-house marketers to lose sight of the big picture, as they tend to look out from the inside, and not in from the outside. They frequently get seconded from marketing tasks to other business-critical activities, to the detriment of audience focus. Whether it’s planning, copywriting or designing, the right outsourced team will have experience with a variety of different marketing and communication strategies, techniques, and tools. You can rely on their lessons over the years to find the correct solution for your business challenge.
The Bottom Line: By outsourcing some or all of your marketing, you have complete flexibility, access to trained professionals and advanced marketing technology, without the outlay and uncertainty of creating an internal role or department. The secret to a productive, high-value relationship with your agency is to ensure you have at least one person, working internally, who can help it understand your brand voice, key messages, content, and demographics.
A performance-based agency will have lots of ideas on to contribute based on trends, statistical data, and competitive analysis, but we have always found the best results come from working with at least one executive point of contact within every client’s company.