Should you hire an external public relations (PR) agency or work with an in-house PR team to handle your public relations? This is the question many business owners need to answer before promoting their brand. As someone who has worked with an in-house team and is currently running a PR agency, I understand both sides of the in-house vs. external PR debate. Each choice has pros and cons. Let’s get to the details. 

In-house PR Team Pros

Having an in-house PR team as a critical member of your Marketing Department has some advantages over an external PR agency, including the following.

1. Better Brand Familiarity

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An in-house PR team knows your brand inside and out since they are part of your organization. They have a deep knowledge of your brand messaging, business goals, customers, and competitors. Although a good external PR agency will learn about your brand, establishing this relationship can take some time.

2. Ease of Contact

Reaching out to any member of your in-house team will take less time than an agency. You’re probably in the same physical workspace, and even if you work remotely, they are available only to you since they are most likely full-time employees. For instance, you can have an impromptu conversation at someone’s desk or set up a quick call without scheduling. With an agency, you’ll likely communicate via email or phone and book a meeting. 

3. Project Dedication

Reputable PR agencies work with many clients, so you might not get the level of attention you want from your campaign manager. However, some agencies like RPR Firm treat every customer like they’re the only client they are working with.

In-house PR Team Cons

There are also downsides to hiring an in-house PR team, especially if you’re a startup or lack the financial resources to make this huge financial investment. 

1. Need for Ongoing Talent Management

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Having an in-house PR team means you must always find, hire, and train new team members. What’s more, hiring a team can be much more expensive than partnering with an agency because of the need for insurance, employee benefits, technology, and other perks. Also, the ever-changing public relations landscape requires many skill sets, like media outreach, content creation, reputation management, etc. You can even break down these smaller categories and specializations. This is why you can’t rely on one person to handle everything; it truly takes a team. 

2. Investment in PR Tools & Technology

Whether in-house or an external PR agency, every public relations professional needs tools to communicate, connect with customers, and monitor their campaign progress. Some PR tools, such as Prowly, Meltwater, Muck Rack, Brandwatch, and others, are quite expensive. However, since a typical external PR agency has invested in these tools already, you don’t have to shell out extra cash. Besides, having a tool is one thing; knowing how to use these tools to extract valuable insights is a different ball game entirely. 

Pros of Hiring an External PR Agency

Hiring an external PR agency comes with many advantages, and we highlight some of them below.

1. Teamwork and Experience

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Most external PR agencies have likely seen what works and what doesn’t work for a brand like yours from working with different clients across multiple industries. A good external PR team will stay updated with industry trends and the latest technologies to maximize your campaign’s effectiveness. Moreover, an external PR agency will have professionals with different areas of expertise that can unlock unconventional PR opportunities of which you may not be aware. As a result, you can easily change your campaign direction or goals without spending months hiring or training someone. 

2. Better Equipped with PR Tools

You need reliable PR tools to make informed decisions about your customers, competitors, and investors. Most premium tools are expensive, but external PR agencies typically use them on a larger scale for daily operations. Hiring an external PR team means you don’t have to incur unnecessary costs on software purchases. 

3. Cost-Effective

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Hiring, training, and keeping an in-house PR team requires time and money. Although the cost of partnering with an external PR agency depends on your needs, hiring an agency could save you a great deal. Also, many PR agencies offer a la carte services, so you’re not tied to a monthly retainer allowing even more flexibility and cost savings.

Cons of Hiring an External PR Agency 

Partnering with an external PR agency comes with downsides as well, including the following.

1. Location

Unlike an in-house team, an external PR agency might not be in the same location as your business. Choosing meeting times can be challenging with different time zones or locations, leading to a lag in communication. However, a good agency has processes to make any time differences work.

2. Simultaneous Work with Multiple Clients

This can be a plus or a minus, depending on the agency. A reputable PR agency will make you feel like you’re their only client. Unfortunately, not every agency prioritizes maintaining an outstanding client relationship as we do at RPR Firm. If you’re currently working with an agency that doesn’t prioritize your business, it might be time to find a new one. 

3. Less Control

External PR agencies tend to work best with some level of freedom, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have any input on your PR campaign strategies. However, you need to trust the agency to use its best PR tactics for your campaign. Although, you’ll usually be required to approve strategies and other campaign decisions. However, your partnership with a PR agency gives them some liberty to make choices for your business from research and conversations with you and your customers.

If you want complete control over your PR campaign, an in-house team might work better for you, but a responsible external PR agency won’t just make decisions and leave you in the dark. They’ll have thorough reporting processes to keep you informed and keep themselves accountable. Some agencies might even have their own data reporting platforms with real-time data for their clients.

Should You Hire In-house vs. an External PR Agency?

At the end of the day, the decision to hire an in-house or an external PR agency is dependent on your specific business needs. What works for one brand may not work for the other. A good compromise may be to complement your in-house team effort by collaborating with an experienced external agency.