Manufacturing mogul Henry Ford prided himself on his intuition and business acumen.
When faced with falling demand for his cars and high worker turnover in 1914 instead of making cuts he gave his employees a pay rise.
Within a year, employee retention rocketed, productivity surged and demand for his Ford motors boomed.
There’s a lot to be said for gut instinct but it pays to combine with this an informed decision based on all of the information at your disposal.
We all know how important it is to ‘get your name out there’ whether it is to drive sales leads and win new business, raise brand awareness, shift perceptions, communicate key messages, protect and enhance your reputation or simply shout about the great things that your business or organisation is doing.
In this 24/7 multi-media world, it is so easy to drop off the radar.
Leaving an information vacuum can lead people, including customers, to think the worst especially in the new Covid ‘normal’.
For any organisation or business seeking to protect and enhance its profile, the first decision must be whether to outsource its public relations (PR) activity or keep it in-house.
Delegating it to an employee inside the organisation can be attractive but that person may not have the requisite skills, their time may be spent more usefully doing something else or it may fall to the foot of a very long ‘to do’ list.
Research from PR Week has shown that the average salary for a PR manager is £41,100. It is £38,700 for a marketing manager. For a social media manager it is £35,300 and for a PR executive it is £27,300.
It may be far more cost-effective to outsource, especially when pension payments, National Insurance contributions and other costs are factored in.
If so, it can be difficult to decide which provider to use. It can appear as if there is a binary choice: between an agency and sole traders.
Sole traders are sometimes denigrated as ‘one-man bands’ but there are some absolutely brilliant businesses out there.
One of the main benefits of using a sole trader/individual provider is often perceived as cost.
They don’t have to meet overheads and staff costs while providing a very personal service.
Yet many agencies also run very tight ships to keep costs and fees down, especially with employees working from home, travelling less and rarely using offices.
Agencies will also have a great bank of resources to draw upon, whether it is people, expertise and skillsets, experience and talents, or a wide range of services and extensive professional networks and partners.
They will have the time and resources to commit to achieving the best results.
The best agencies will have a strong track record and excellent reputation built over many years – offering reassurance about continuity and quality of service.
But ultimately it is not about the provider, it is about your business or organisation and what is the right fit for you.
Factors may include budget, objectives and end results, working culture, specialisms, target audience, your growth stage, location, size and reasons for outsourcing – whether it is providing support for your marketing team or a full press office and PR function.
Do you wish to build a long-term relationship or is your need for a brief campaign over a period of months?
It can be difficult to make the right decision but there are many ways to do your research. LinkedIn is one way of getting underneath the skin of a potential provider before inviting them to pitch.
And when you do have that meeting – while taking into account all of the ‘data’ – don’t forget the importance of chemistry: the human factor. It can be difficult over a computer screen but you should still be able to get a sense of what they are about.
Do they understand and ‘get’ your business, brand, products and services? Do you see them fitting in as an extension of your team? As Henry Ford once said: “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”
And to risk paraphrasing another motoring mogul, Swiss Toni from the cult comedy The Fast Show: “Choosing a PR provider is a bit like buying a car.”
You may like the look and price of the car but make sure you look under the bonnet to ensure it is going to be right for you.
- Deep South Media provides a range of cost-effective PR services to companies and organisations, with retained costs at up to three-quarters less than a salaried in-house equivalent role. To find out how the consultancy can become a extension of your business, please email Ron Wain, Deep South Media’s managing director, via email@example.com