This is based on nearly 20 years of observation and first-hand experience
There are several reasons why in-house public relations departments fail. We've put together a list of common reasons based on our decades of experience working with some of America's fastest-growing and most admired brands, as well as emerging brands.
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- The larger the department, the more likely they'll use outside agencies.
The more in-house employees an organization has in the PR department, the more likely they are to hire outside PR agencies. This research by the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism might surprise some. But the truth is, the larger an organization is, the more likely it loses its efficiency and begins to specialize in managing and overseeing others.
- An agency brings more experience, resources, and connections to the table.
More clients equal more insights, connections, media touches, relationships, and networks. A medical organization CEO who previously worked as a news reporter, TV news anchor, and public relations pro, says she believes PR agencies are in the best position to represent brands because they are representing multiple clients, and therefore, providing multiple value connections and touches to industry and media influencers.
No single brand can accomplish the same volume and value to those connections versus an agency that’s entrenched and entrusted with multiple brands and sources at their fingertips.
- Mandatory meetings, training, and reports.
In-house workers are often distracted by internal meetings, company policies and training sessions, and watercooler conversations that prevent them from ultimately being productive.
Meanwhile, agencies are engaged and judged on the scope of work, outputs, and outcomes. If they don't get the work done, they don't get to keep the business. An employee who attends meetings on time and contributes gets rewarded.
- Most employees don't know how newsrooms work.
If you're looking for public relations to drive news coverage (earned media), then those individuals need to know how newsrooms work. If you can't figure out who does what function within the newsroom organization, how do you know who, how, and when to pitch your news story?
- Most employees are intimidated by the media and fear the concept of pitching media.
Speaking of media pitching, based on observations and client confessions, most in-house employees are intimidated by the media and fear the concept of pitching media. So much so that they procrastinate and never pick up the phone to pitch until it's no longer a newsworthy topic, costing the company significant visibility in the marketplace.
Axia Public Relations has a documented proven process for earned media coverage that we share with global audiences to help them learn the best practices of media relations.
- Most companies don't know how to hire public relations professionals.
We've seen some really bad hiring moves. Some organizations hire a newsroom personality or reporter who has influence and splash but next to no experience working in public relations. These journalists know how to tell stories but are not in a position to lead a team or develop a strategy.
In addition, hiring is seasonal. Companies are either hiring and struggling to find talent, or trimming and looking to reduce payroll costs.
- Most companies don't know how to retain public relations professionals.
When it comes to outsourcing PR, nearly every major brand is smart enough to know the best professionals are often working in a company, community, and culture with other highly talented individuals. An accountant who’s ambitious wants to work and learn with other expert accountants. They wouldn't be too happy working solo in a company or with a small team.
- It costs more.
The nail in the coffin is that it actually costs more to staff in-house employees for news media, social media, and web content strategies, programs, and measurement than it does to hire an expert team via a public relations agency. Don't believe it: We've run the numbers and so can you.
Clients love Jason’s passion, candor, and commitment as well as the team he has formed at Axia Public Relations. He's advised some of America’s most admired brands, including American Airlines, Dave & Buster’s, Hilton, HP, Pizza Hut, and Verizon. He is an Emmy Award-winning, accredited public relations practitioner, speaker, author, and entrepreneur and earned his certification in inbound marketing. He founded the PR firm in July 2002. Learn more about Jason.