Are PR Agencies a thing of the past?

I was researching some information for my groups client when I stumbled across an interesting article entitled “Who need PR Agencies, Exactly?”  In it the author talks about how she was shocked when she came across a software company that do not hire any outside PR agency for PR work.  Instead the company uses their marketing team to write up press releases, create feature pitches and to accumulate relationships with local journalists.  To the authors surprise the system seemed to work very well.  After all, who knows more about a company than those that actually work within it? 

The author posed a very interesting question, ” what do these companies (with internal PR) miss out on by not working with PR agencies?”

After thinking about this question for awhile I began to wonder if PR agencies are just a thing of the past.  Companies can use their marketing department to conduct a lot of the work that an agency would do, but wouldn’t that mean that they would have to take time away from marketing duties to write a press release or create a pitch?  The more and more I thought about it, the more reasons I thought of how not hiring a PR company could negatively effect a company. Here is what I came up with:

  • PR professionals are educated and trained to deal with PR tasks everyday.  The author even states that she is not an expert in what PR agenecies do.  As a PR student I have been recieving an education in this career and I would like to believe that it could not be so easily taught to just anyone in a few months.
  • Time commitment!  PR agencies are hired to protect the image and to deal with the everyday tasks of campaigning and media.  They have the time to thouroughly evaluate and commit to a campaign.  Marketing departments would be taking away from their usual duties and may not have enough time to create something that would be as carefully and creativly thought out as an agency.
  • Agencies already have relationships with local key press and media outlets and therefore can return results to a company quickly. 
  • As one commenter said it still is going to cost the company money.  If companies are eliminating PR agencies because they think it is going to be cheaper they are wrong.  Training those in PR is still going to have a price tag attached to it.
  • Outside perspective!  If you keep everything within a company you will never see the bigger picture.  I think that a PR agency brings no biases and are aware of perspectives and ideas that companies may not be aware of.  They bring awareness and originality to a company that may be stuck within the boundaries of their comapny.

I can see the benefits of eliminating the “middle man”, but  they seem to be overshadowed by the benefits of hiring the middle man.

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5 Responses to Are PR Agencies a thing of the past?

  1. bryantedleson says:

    Scary, but interesting article. I agree that a lot of the tasks PR agencies do, a marketing team could probably complete as well. However, I think the relationships an agency has with local key press and media outlets alone is worth their assistance. I feel time commitment is also important and PR agencies can focus on a single client at a time..even several at a time would be more beneficial than taking time away from usual duties. I enjoyed your last sentence, “I can see the benefits of eliminating the “middle man”, but they seem to be overshadowed by the benefits of hiring the middle man.

  2. Mickey Siegel says:

    I completely agree with your point that an outside perspective is needed in order to properly implement a campaign. Way too often organizations believe that they strategies they are using are the best mostly due to them not wanting to see something that they came up with fail. By getting an outside perspective, it is easier to identify the problems as well as fix them.

  3. mlmyers says:

    I have also read some blogs about companies no longer using PR agencies and I think that eventually many people will realize that this trend is repeating history. While the concept of PR has been around since bartering was the popular thing to do, it took much longer to associate a name with the concept. With that being said, PR agencies have not always been around. Somewhere along the line, there became a need for the type of help PR agencies offer and since the PR field has skyrocketed. With the economy in its current condition, it makes sense that PR would be one of the “extra expenses” that would be first to go. But I think it is important to realize that just because money is tight does not mean that there is no longer the need for the work PR agencies do.

  4. gbohulan says:

    As someone who interned for a PR agency, I do not think they are a thing of the past. They help achieve a company’s goal and help them build better relationships with their stakeholders. PR agencies are home for educated and professional relationship builders. Without that, it would be very difficult to run your business and do all of the PR on your own. Internal PR may know more about their organization, but a fresh, objective and outside perspective is always good.

  5. kparma says:

    The company I work for doesn’t work with a PR agency. I work in marketing and we basically do all of the marketing and PR for the company. Yes, it is more time consuming and there is a lot more work. However, my company is smaller (about 80 FTEs) and a lot of our business is generated by leads through tradeshows and word-of-mouth. I don’t want to say hiring a PR agency would be a waste of time and money for my company, but I do think that we are doing pretty well for not having one.

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