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Whom to entrust your PR business?

Many Russian PR-specialists are guided by pre-internet misperceptions about messaging channels, outdated technologies and old methodologies for evaluation. In order to mitigate lack of in-house expertise and resources, companies outsource a full range of PR business to external PR-agencies, in hope that they will add value. The question we ask in this article - is it a cost effective and result optimizing approach? If yes, why are the PR-agencies pricing not transparent and why are they not willing to seriously audit their added value? Some corporate PR departments even transfer their whole PR portfolio to a single provider. This is obviously the most convenient solution but is it good value for money?

Better safe than sorry

Many companies outsource their whole PR business to a single PR-agency. In practice, that usually means that the Agency develop a story that can distribute the corporate message(s) to the target audience, then spin the story by a pre-set of media channels and in the end of the month report about the media publicity to the client company, preferably in quantitative terms. Has the PR-agency incentive to hide the inefficiency of their tactics or to inflate the impact in the audience resulted from the news stories they spin? We think the answer is yes. But let’s assume that the Agency is fully objective in the relationship to the client. Would it make the PR-agency suitable to be in the driver’s seat during the client’s whole PR-process?

The fact is that PR-agencies are specialized in spinning news stories and place them in media, especially in traditional media outlets. Our experience is that their technology and methodology is far from up-to-date. For instance, in many cases they over-stress the impact from TV and print media (at the cost of social media channels), they focus majorly on quantitative metrics and tone/sentiment. And they are in many cases disable to set relevant metrics in support of their client’s PR tactics. The bottom line is - what you cannot measure you cannot develop effectively. Again, it’s hardly in the interest of the PR agencies to highlight their own shortcomings. But it’s in the interest of owners and management of the client corporation that they receive the most “bang for their bucks”. It’s time to walk the talk and diversify the PR portfolio between different specialists. Our argument is simple – let the experts do the job.

Effective implementation of the PR process

We argue that by dividing the PR business between specialists in different fields; in-house PR department, and independent external providers - PR agency and PR support – the client company gets better value for their money (ROI!). When working with a professional monitoring and analysis system the client benefits from; (i) independent evaluation of own media image and PR performance (e.g. PR-audit), (ii) 24/7 scan of media landscape (i.e. relevant publications about own company and competitors) in order to be able to react fast on threats and opportunities, (iii) tools to continuously fine-tune PR-tactics in order to focus on what works and stop what doesn’t, (iv) a well-structured electronic database (archive) with various filters and tools for free text search and possibilities to store information in private folders.

Considering the speed a news story is spread all over the internet, an immediate response is more important than ever. In addition, a professional media monitoring system maximizes the relevant result and minimizes the media noise. At the same time a professional system can distribute tailored information, down-streamed to each department in the company and to all key personal in accordance with their professional needs. To summarize, there are several convincing arguments why a corporation should diversify the outsourcing of PR-promotional business and PR support business. The key question boils down to; do you want to be efficient with the shareholders money?

All inclusive…

Companies that use PR-agency for monitoring and analysis often argue that these services are free of charge as being included in a large PR package. Really? Are PR agencies offering free lunches to their clients? Apparently, package price is not transparent. And by offering one price for a portfolio of services, it’s possible to camouflage costs that are passed on to the client. It is also more convenient for the PR-agency to evaluate the own performance. Guess what their conclusion will be?

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