As public relations continue to grow as a field, one aspect that grows along with it is the development of in-house public relations. While most public figures and brands hire external PR experts to assist with events planning, reputation management, and a whole host of other activities, many companies build a PR team in-house.
This development first started among smaller companies who, unable to afford expensive PR fees for external firms, sought to put PR campaigns together on their own. However, even bigger companies now follow this trend. For instance, Apple relies on the occasional external PR assistance, but it runs its own beast of a PR engine in-house.
One of the difficulties of public relations rests in the fact that along with a need to know PR, specialists also need knowledge in the areas clients do business. As a result, English majors and former marketing experts who venture into PR sometimes have a difficult time navigating more technical areas of medicine, engineering, programming, tech, and law.
This struggle reflects in not just the individual specialists, but PR in general. For this reason, many boutique firms thrive off the ability to specialize on specific areas where key clients belong.
From In-House to External PR
However, engineering firm, Grand Forks, not only launched its in-house PR engine but also extends its services to other clients who could benefit from the knowledge they acquired. The firm stated the decision came after a realization that:
“Our team is really skilled at taking technical information and boiling it down to specific stakeholders and the general public.”
The company’s CEO describes the PR team as having grown “organically” over the years and became what it is today without deliberate intention. The firm demonstrates its ability to do business, as well, by recognizing what it’s good at and what it isn’t. The CEO said:
“What we realized is that for the things that we know — infrastructure, water, engineering — that we’re quite good at providing those services… We’re probably not going to compete on a general level where we don’t have a unique knowledge base.”
Benefits of In-House Public Relations
Aside from the possibility of one day making money from offering this expertise to other clients at a price, there are many benefits from operating in-house PR services.
A Company Knows Itself Best.
One thought is that no external PR expert can understand an organization’s culture and how it works as well as the people actually working in it. As a result, when it comes to making decisions for campaigns, or which may affect employees, other staff members in PR seem most suited to do this.
Real Time Response.
Even when companies keep PR firms on hand they usually only call on them for specific tasks or when crisis strikes. This is partially due to cost. But whatever the reason, it takes some time to contact a PR agent and then meet about the issue.
However, when issues occur, in-house PR teams can respond immediately, if necessary – without the delay of contacting outside help and explaining what happened.
External PR agencies have many different clients, and sometimes those clients are each other’s rivals. As a result, PR specialists might avoid creating certain campaigns for one client to avoid offending the other. While this makes good business for the specialist, it adds restrictions on clients.
In-house PR agents have no such limitations. Since they are (usually) their only client, they can also focus entirely on their own needs, without the distraction of meeting someone else’s.
Developing in-house PR expertise, especially in the technical areas, can prove beneficial for any company. However, companies should weigh the expertise of the specialists they have on board or can attract, and the goals they need to meet. This is a necessary step before giving up experienced PR firms to experiment with developing those skills within the company.