An effective PR strategy involves sharing your business’s story with your key audiences to raise brand awareness, connect with your customers and build a solid reputation. However, defining a PR strategy can be overwhelming for new businesses. How do you implement it? More importantly, who do you trust to tell your story?
The case for managing your PR in-house
When considering outsourcing PR or managing it internally, there are pros and cons of both routes to consider. At FF&M we believe the founder or creative director of a business is their own best storyteller. This is one of the greatest benefits of managing your PR in-house: your business story isn’t diluted by a third party or portrayed in a way that doesn’t feel authentic.
PR agencies look after numerous clients so there’s no guarantee that your business will always be a priority and you might find it frustrating liaising with external partners who are juggling multiple stakeholders. Managing your own PR also makes communication much easier: ‘scheduling meetings, getting answers and arranging facetime when needed can all be done with an internal messenger or maybe even by walking to the end of the hall’ (Prowly).
Maintaining your flexibility
Owning your PR in-house also means you can quickly change direction if needed. Jess Magill, co-founder of Powderkeg, commenting on the advantages of controlling your messaging, says ‘the further away your communications [strategy] is from the company’s [central leadership] team, the more time-consuming and costly it can be to change direction’ (Raconteur, October 2022).
Although it’s worth acknowledging that implementing a PR strategy requires a lot of attention, planning and communication. If you are prepared to feed an agency the information they need to do a great job, plus budget properly for them, then it is a great solution for a busy founder team.
Building press relationships
By outsourcing your PR to an agency it’s more difficult to build your own relationships with journalists. Caroline Hoffman, Head of PR & Communications at Market Orders, explains how ‘every communication you’ll have with [journalists] will usually go through the agency…and you will not be able to stay in touch the day you stop working with the agency’ (Medium, August 2020).
However, PR agencies are well-connected with journalists and press appointment requests are more likely to be accepted when sent from an email address the journalist is familiar with. We would highly recommend accompanying your PR representative to introduce your business story and products to the journalist when you can. This personal connection will build a stronger relationship for the long term and is likely to be reflected in subsequent stories in which journalists feature your business.
Keeping up to date with sector developments
Some say that in-house PR teams can develop tunnel vision and not stay up to speed on competitor news or industry changes. Alex Silcox, Chief Client Officer at Hill+Knowlton Strategies argues that in-house teams ‘risk missing opportunities to explore or intersect with others, by simply not being exposed to them’ (Raconteur, October 2022).
Agencies offer a broader view outside of your industry niche which can open up new editorial and partnership opportunities. However, if you choose to manage your PR in-house, it can be beneficial to be coached by PR experts to keep a fresh approach as the business grows.
At FF&M we’ve had the pleasure of training many business owners and their teams on how to own their PR in-house. We create a comprehensive and bespoke tool kit for businesses to use which includes business mission and vision statements, brand narrative copy, PR angles and partnership ideas. Our clients also become part of our FF&M members’ community to dot-connect with new partners, share advice and offer support on an ongoing basis.