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PR Agencies versus DIY PR: The Pros and Cons

Many businesses wonder if they could manage their PR themselves or if they should call on an agency. Here is comparative between the two options.

Stage one of deciding how to manage your PR is to work out what it is you want from your PR strategy.  Only then can you start assessing whether you need the support of an experienced agency, or whether you could manage everything yourself.

For businesses looking to manage a launch, an event to which they want to invite journalists and clients, they will invariably need help, and the services of an agency. If, on the other hand, you are looking for distribution of news, this is something you can do yourself on a DIY basis.

The second key issue is budget. How much you have to spend. An agency will cost anywhere from £1000 upwards every month, and a major launch could cost several thousands of pounds, whereas using an online service to manage a PR strategy on a DIY basis can cost as little as £25 a month.

Budget aside, the Pros of using an agency over using a DIY solution, are:

·  Experience. An agency will generally know what they are doing. They certainly will be able to manage a launch event better than a ‘home made' exercise.

·  Journalist contacts. Agencies will have their little black books of favoured contacts. If a business is looking to access those journalists, then using an agency may pay dividends.

·  Help in preparing a news release. Agencies should have the expertise to write a press release and present it well to catch the attention of journalists.

The Cons of using an agency come down to:

·  Cost. Agencies are relatively expensive, with no guarantee of success.

·  Assumption of expertise.  For a small client, an agency will normally appoint a junior to manage a relationship. With ‘junior’ comes ‘inexperience’.

For many businesses, a DIY strategy is perfectly viable. 

The Pros of going DIY PR are:

·  Cost. Many businesses simply do not have the budget to do anything else but manage their own strategy themselves. This is quite feasible by using PR online tools. Have a look at the 10 best affordable PR tools for small businesses to get ideas.

·  Flexibility. The DIY strategy means that business owners can manage their strategy in their own time, out of office hours for instance, and without the delays that using an agency would be inevitable.

·  Personal touch. Frequently journalists are more open to receiving news direct from real businesses, as opposed to receiving sanitised press releases through a professional agency.

The cons of a DIY solution depend largely on which solution is used:

·  Not all online solutions provide full service offerings, so business owners should make sure they choose a good package.

·  Time. A business managing its own PR must allocate the time to do so. This need not be hours on end, but it will require a business to be sufficiently disciplined to commit the effort.

·  Experience. Writing news properly does require a certain skill. Some DIY solutions do provide a copywriting service to help with this.

·  Access to journalists. Again this comes down to the solution chosen. Some online platforms just send news down a newswire without any specific targeting. Others allow a business to engage with specific journalists.

What’s best for a small business?

Generally speaking, a small business can manage its own PR using an inexpensive DIY solution. The key though is identifying the right service. 

They should ensure that help is available in writing the releases, guidance is available on when to distribute news, and that there is targeting of relevant journalists built into the service. Not often recognised as more, if not equally important to press release distribution, is being asked for comment by journalists when specific articles are being written.

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JournoLink is a PR platform enabling you to send press releases to over 6000 journalists, bloggers and broadcasters, to receive editorial requests and to access a business calendar with key dates and events you could comment on. Find out more here.

Written by: Peter Ibbetson, Company Director

As one of the co-founders of JournoLink PR, Peter is passionate about giving small businesses a voice in the press by providing them with the support and advice to do just that. 

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