The blogosphere is jammed with “expert” opinion on why a company should or should not hire a public relations agency. And is equally jammed with posts on the questions a company should ask before considering a relationship with an agency, like this one. Any company planning to bring a PR agency on board for the first time or possibly replacing their existing one should spend considerable time reading the pros and cons of hiring an agency. There’s no shortage of opinions on the subject.
In one corner are the experts who believe they have been burned by a PR agency or just think they can do as good a job — or a better one — promoting their brand without outside counsel. For example, 5 reasons you’ll regret hiring a PR firm for your startup — and what you should do instead, by Kevin Leu of GirlsOnAMap.com and published in “VentureBeat” tells us that “nothing could be more dumb than throwing your hard-earned venture capital money at a public relations firm.”
Mr. Leu is entitled to his opinion, of course, and his spirited rant on how PR agencies don’t know how to tell stories, rest on their laurels, and are nothing more than a big rip-off garnered his post fairly broad readership and pages of comments. But the post is full of gross generalities IMHO. Do bad PR agencies exist? Of course, and Kevin has apparently seen more than his fair share of them. But to lump all agencies in the rip-off bucket doesn’t make any sense. And simply isn’t fair.
A former colleague of mine, Patrick Ward, followed up Leu’s post with a more measured response in Here we go again: 5 reasons hiring a good PR firm is smart business. In it, Patrick counters that an agency will keep your story honest, they’ll leverage their influencer relationships on the client’s behalf and they provider greater value than an internal employee.
Leu’s opinion of agencies aside, the public relations industry continues to outperform global economic growth. And PR consistently ranks among the best industries to start a business due to its low cost of entry (with that said, the PR industry is perhaps more competitive than anytime in recent memory). So if the raw number of PR agencies, from the three-person boutique to global shops, is any indication of the value businesses place on the profession, then PR is clearly filling a vital business need.
Sorry Mr. Leu, but here are
5 More Reasons
5 More Reasons
- When a company hires an agency, it’s hiring a team — not an individual. This means the client enjoys the benefit of the vast network of influencer relationships that the agency, vs. what an individual, can bring to the table
- Agency professionals build relationships with journalists, bloggers, etc., with two key purposes in mind: to assist the influencer in doing their job and to leverage these relationships on behalf of their clients’ stories.
- A good agency doesn’t let its staffers drink the client’s Kool-Aid. An agency will tell you if your stories are stale and will uncover new ones in your organization. An agency will tell you if your new product is an also-ran and will help find ways to position it in a positive light without overstating the benefits. A good agency staffer will tell a client when they’re wrong, and how to make it right.
- Good agencies become true extensions of a company’s internal team. Once the agency team establishes strong, trusting relationships with the client, products and audiences — aka, the brand — they will deliver the same levels of authenticity and passion as do in-house team members and will do so without the distraction of in-house corporate politics.
- A good PR agency person is a content creator at heart. Agency people create client stories like it was their own to tell, and messages that cut through the B.S.
So there you have my five reasons why a company needs a PR agency. Please share your own reasons or comments here on “What it Takes.”