Bringing PR in-house — why it’s not always a good idea

In-house PR | Marketing teams | PR vs Marketing
Research by the World Federation of Advertisers shows that businesses give their current agency roster set-up a score of just 5.7 out of 10, where 10 is fit for purpose. This is one of the many justifications for taking activity like PR in-house. Here, Kirsty McMahon, new client strategist at Stone Junction, explains the challenges of in-housing and why you should look before you leap.

Before we get stuck in, I can hear you all rolling your eyes — of course you’re anti in-housing Kirsty, you work at an agency! This is true, but as someone who has also spent five years in-house I think I remain impartial… kind of.

Lack of transparency about agency pricing, an increase in digital advertising and pressure on margins are just some of the main arguments for bringing PR activity back into the company fold. However, there are several things you really, truly need to consider before you make this step.

Resources
When we talk about the number of people in your marketing team here, I’m referencing the tools and technology that an agency has the scope to invest in. For example, relying on the handful of journalists your team has a personal knowledge of will not result in a successful campaign. Agencies pay for access to services like Vuelio, which gives them the ability to find the contact information for editors around the world in any trade sector.

Effective media monitoring also relies on spending money on services that can do the leg work for you, such as Meltwater, Vuelio or Gorkana. None of these tools are cheap, but you reap the benefits of them without the massive capital investment if you work with an agency.

Mastering trade
Websites, brochures, trade shows, sales collateral, whitepapers, social media, networking, internal comms, email marketing, budget management and reporting.  Marketing teams must be a Jack of all trades but they are already pulled in a thousand directions, so where can they fit in the time to create, manage and run an effective and innovative PR campaign?

An agency ensures you have a team of people solely dedicated to making your campaign deliver results without relying on the simplest tactics because that’s all there is time for. Outside the box thinking is so much easier if you’re not living in the box.

It is what you know
With all the pressure on marketing teams, commitment to continual professional development (CPD) is not easy to make time for, so it makes sense that when it is on the agenda it suits the individual’s career in marketing. PR agencies are full of people doing the same thing, but specialising in PR.

At Stone Junction, for example, we have a flexible benefits scheme that covers membership of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), and this has resulted in half the agency becoming accredited PR practitioners and two being chartered PR practitioners. You can’t really put a price on this commitment to remaining at the forefront of the industry, but it is an often-overlooked asset in any PR campaign toolbelt.

If you’d like to chat in more detail about the agency vs in-house debate, I’m happy to be challenged! Give me a call on +44 (0)1785 225416 or email kirsty@stonejunction.co.uk.

Kirsty McMahon

Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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