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September 29, 2010
PR by Insiders or Outsiders?
There's a thoughtful piece by Jennifer Leggio on ZDNet on whether public relations is done most advantageously with an in-house staff or an outside agency. The larger the company, the more likely business units are to work with outside agencies, but there are substantial benefits to doing PR with a collaborative inside staff familiar with outside needs and opportunities.

A business may be better able to gain a sense of itself and project well when communication staffers sensitive to organizational dynamics are on the scene and part of workday currents. Management, of course, is not excused from seeking out and hiring creative people, whether for inside roles, or from outside agencies. But having competent people continually on hand, continually refining an organization's identity, and continually bringing its people together can be a big plus.

In today's terms, when social media is gaining such currency, it may be hard to find experienced people, inside or out. Because of the attention required to grow capacity in a field like social media, it might well be better to have an inside communication group tutored by capable outsiders, if they can be found.

"The thing is," Leggio writes, "that in many companies the cross-functional collaboration required for today's progressive communications is easier to achieve by internal teams, versus agencies that might only work with one business unit. While many agencies are still able to do this well a slew of others are still focused on baseline media relations programs. This is another reason why it might make sense to expand internal teams versus expanding or growing an agency relationship."

A company needs to be developed and profitable enough to do its own PR, so that its chief executive isn't hampered by having to do, or oversee, everything personally. People hired for inside PR roles need to be familiar both with media needs and how to relate well to the organizational dynamics going on around them. With the right people for inside roles, zestful collaborative relationships can grow and flourish. 

What hurts is when a company tries to skimp on PR, requiring inside staffers or an outside agency to do too much, or to neglect things that should be done -- like learning and employing new relational methods. Being mindful of actual corporate needs and respectful of what it takes to do things well is always where advantageous deployment begins.

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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