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Pros and cons of hiring a PR firm during coronavirus


Sam Lauron
Pros and cons of hiring a PR firm during...

When running a business, there are always going to be pros and cons associated with any decision. But the coronavirus crisis has brought with it a host of other challenges and decisions that small businesses and startups must take into consideration. 

If the impact of COVID-19 has forced you to reevaluate your communications strategy, then one of those choices may be whether or not to outsource public relations work in order to improve that strategy. 

There are, of course, pros and cons when hiring a PR firm during coronavirus. Here are a few to take into account. 

Pro: Refine your messaging 

When the pandemic hit, many businesses had to share how they were responding to the crisis with their customers, stakeholders, and partners. Communicating the latest updates is crucial, but it’s only one part of the overall strategy. If your company has yet to determine the best communication plan going forward, then now is the time to figure that out. 

PR firms can help refine your brand’s messaging so that it reflects the company’s current values and goals. Not only does having a strong message help guide the language used in owned content on the company’s blog, email, and social channels, but it can also be used as a solid foundation during media interviews or thought leadership articles. 

Con: May not be in the budget

It’s no secret that the economy has taken a major hit in light of coronavirus. If your business is like many, then this crisis has also had a significant impact on your operations and budget. If you have less money coming in than usual, then you likely need to be conservative about where you’re spending it. 

It’s hard to say which is more expensive, an in-house employee or an outside agency. It depends on a number of factors including the size of your company, size of the PR firm, and costs associated with hiring a full-time employee. 

One thing that is certain, however, is that earned media is a necessary component to any communications and marketing strategy, especially during coronavirus. The best thing to do is to reevaluate your marketing budget, shift a few things around to make room for PR, and compare the costs of an employee versus an agency to see which is the best fit for your company. 

Pro: Media outreach

Has your brand pivoted in recent months to combat COVID-19? Whether you’ve donated a significant amount to healthcare workers or nonprofits, or you’ve adapted your product to meet the current demands (e.g. you’ve pivoted your production of clothing to make face masks instead), the media wants to hear about it.

While it’s possible to have an in-house team member reach out to the media, they likely don’t have the bandwidth to focus on pitching alongside all of the other tasks they need to handle during this time. A PR agency, on the other hand, has the time, resources, and media contacts needed to share the company’s initiative far and wide. A PR firm will work hard behind the scenes to make sure everyone hears about the good things your brand is doing, allowing you to focus on the important work of giving back to the community. 

Con: An agency is not an in-house employee

This point should go without saying, but it’s still an important one to emphasize for anyone considering working with a PR firm. If you’re looking for someone who will be available 40 hours a week and can work alongside the team on the day-to-day tasks, then you’re better off hiring an in-house PR or marketing manager. 

A good PR agency is an extension of your team; they understand the brand, their values align with yours, and you feel comfortable collaborating and strategizing together. However, an agency cannot offer the same undivided attention that an in-house employee can. While a PR agency will often dedicate an account executive to work closely with you and your team, you likely won’t have constant access to them and will have to schedule calls or meetings to go over any projects, ideas, or concerns. The value that an outside PR team brings is in the overall strategy, fresh perspectives, and connection to the media. 

Pro: Ongoing support 

While the COVID-19 crisis is certainly a unique situation that calls for extra support, there are benefits to working with a PR firm throughout the year rather than solely during times of crisis. 

A PR agency can offer ongoing support across a range of public relations and marketing efforts, whether you want to increase brand awareness, create more owned content, or position yourself as a thought leader in your industry. When exploring the idea of hiring a PR firm during coronavirus, consider what the agency can offer you on a year round basis and if they will be a valuable partner in the long term. 

About Sam Lauron: Sam is a freelance lifestyle writer and a copywriter at Swyft, which has been listed as one of the best PR firms in Austin and a top digital marketing agency in Denver since its founding in 2011. Swyft has satellite offices where it offers PR in San Francisco and Houston.

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