Although the general purpose of both firm and corporate PR is the same, the means by which they do so uniquely differ between the two.
In-house pr has the distinct ability to be in constant communication with the company it represents, since it is part of said company. The ability to quickly communicate makes information sharing much easier, since it can often occur at a face to face basis, instead of over the phone/email as one would do with a contracted firm. Also, the additional fact that there is always an expert coworker that can assist the PR firm when necessary is an additional benefit. This also ensures that information that is shared comes directly from the source to the PR workers, instead of it going from source –to third party- to PR firm, as it sometimes may. Brian Adams from PR Daily explains that this ability is essential in handling a crisis. “All of this ties together nicely when a crisis strikes. While agencies can be prepared for layoffs, facility closures, or changes in leadership, the in-house communications leader is uniquely positioned when disaster strikes. If a crisis strikes quickly, it is extremely beneficial to be on-site. [. . .] I believe that the internal and external communications benefited greatly from time-saved and institutional knowledge” (Adams, 2013)
However, hiring a PR firm offers benefits that corporate or in house PR cannot provide. When a business contracts a PR firm, they are hiring a group of talented individuals that have vast experiences in the field. This allows for greater collaboration, and the ability to draw on past experiences to see what has worked. For example, a fictional hospital in a large, urban area has recently come under fire after it was found that a large number of employees have been selling medications from the hospital on the streets. The hospital’s in house PR firm would have a hefty work load in order to clear this up, and have never been presented this issue before. With a PR firm, this may not be an issue. The workers of a PR firm would be able to draw from their experiences and discuss how they have successfully handled similar issues, minimizing the damage. Patrick Ward, the CEO of PR firm 104 West, said it best when describing this benefit, stating “when you hire an employee, you only get that individual’s personal experience. When you hire an agency, you get the whole team’s perspective and background,” (Ward, 2013)
Since both of these systems have pros and cons, the inevitable question arises: “which one is better?” Bloggers, PR specialists, and business owners alike have all drawn their own conclusions based on their own standpoint. From a small business firm point of view, it may be more cost efficient to go with in house Public Relations because of a limited budget. However, there isn’t much that can top hiring a firm consisting of elite of Public Relations professionals. PR firm workers are often highly trained in crisis management due to diverse experiences, making them an invaluable asset during times of trouble.
There is no objective way to really analyze the two and deem one superior over the other. Since each has their own benefits and downfalls, one must make the decision based on their individual interests. Also, a good compromise to get the best of both worlds (if you have the budget) is to hire both and reap the benefits.
Adams, B. (2013, January 16). 5 major differences between agency and in-house pr. Retrieved from http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/5_major_differences_between_agency_and_inhouse_PR_13582.aspx
Ward, P. (2013, May 10). Here we go again: 5 reasons hiring a good pr firm is smart business. Retrieved from http://venturebeat.com/2013/05/10/5-reasons-why-hiring-a-good-pr-firm-is-smart-business/