What are the advantages and disadvantages for startups to hire a PR person in-house versus hiring an external PR consultant or a PR agency to run a campaign?
Our Head of PR & Communications, Caroline Hoffmann, answers this question in PR on the go article ‘Public Relations for Start-ups: In-house Or Outsourced?’.
“The main advantages of hiring a PR agency are getting results more effectively and save you some time. Time is money! As a startup, the trickiest part of press relations is getting the journalists’ contact details, knowing how to pitch them and getting their attention. A PR agency has already built trusted relationships with journalists and knows what they’re interested in, which helps them pitch relevant publications and be more efficient. Regarding the results, you can put KPIs in place to ensure you get minimum results every month. For example, quoted in 3 top tier publications and get 1 industry profile piece a month.
The main disadvantages of hiring a PR agency are a substantial cost and not ‘owning’ the relationships with journalists. As a startup, you usually have little idea of how much a PR agency costs. Price can range from £1000 to £10,000 for the same service. I’d say the average price for press relations is £1500 for a great freelancer and £4500 for a great agency.
It can also be difficult to know which agency pitches for organic content and which agency pays for coverage in unfaithful ways. I’d say if an agency tells you they can guarantee you coverage in Forbes and the Financial Times, run away! No one can guarantee press coverage unless they’re using illegal ways to get it.
The second disadvantage is not owning the relationships with journalists as every communication you’ll have with them will usually go through the agency. This means you’ll not be directly in touch with journalists and will not be able to stay in touch the day you stop working with the agency. This is why as a startup, you should try to do some in-house PR using free tools like HARO or Qwoted so that you can build and own the relationships with journalists.
At MarketOrders, when we started we didn’t have any budget to allocate to PR and used free tools like HARO, Qwoted and our network (don’t underestimate the power of your network!). After 6 months of work, we got fantastic results:
- Over 100 articles in the press, including The Sun, The Telegraph, City AM, Startups Magazine, Business Cloud, Management Today…
- Over 20 awards nominations.
- Our crowdfunding campaign overfunded at 112%, raising a total of £439,840.
- 95% of the investors heard of us outside of the crowdfunding platform, through press coverage.
Moral of the story? If you can afford it, have someone in-house to manage your PR and hire an agency to get top tier press coverage and high-quality articles, which are harder to get. Building your profile and credibility using free tools on a day to day basis is very rewarding and also makes the agency’s job easier. You can also hire an agency only for a 4–6 month campaign to launch a specific product or service.”
Read the article here.