Is Financial Public Relations an In-House Function or Should You Use an Agency?

Breaking down the different approaches to public relations

It’s about to be budget season. You recognize the value in public relations, such as increased brand recognition and market share. You know that a well-executed strategy requires an experienced PR professional. The question then becomes,

“Should we hire an agency? Or should we do PR in-house?”

The answer is not simple. Each company has specific needs, goals, budget and staff resources that all influence the best approach to building a successful public relations team and executing thorough PR programs with financial industry media.

Scope and Goal of a Financial PR Program

The first thing you must do is decide what your company wants to accomplish with PR. A well-run program educates customers and the financial community on the great work you are doing.

In-House Advantages

  • Direct access to management
  • Planning, messaging and execution can be easy for a communicator who lives and breathes your company’s values
  • Easier for an internal team to meld PR strategies with your corporate goals from the very beginning

Agency Advantages

  • Already a level of financial expertise, decades of experience, professionalism and strategic counsel that removes the learning curve for your company
  • Already has preexisting relationships with:
  • Leaves officials the time and energy to focus on their primary skills and responsibilities

Staffing Resources

In-House Advantages

  • Small companies
    • 1 or 2 people managing all external communications allows for all communication channels to be integrated
  • Larger companies
    • Hiring a full team responsible for communications enables you to hire specialists for specific products or campaigns
  • Companies should also consider access to PR talent. Larger cities or areas near universities with strong PR programs will have the most access to both experienced and well-educated PR talent.

Agency Advantages

  • Provide you with experienced talent
  • Reduce overall costs by spreading the costs of services and tools across multiple clients
  • Mitigate the learning curve by working with specialized agencies that focus on the financial industry
  • Just as in any partnership, companies should take care to do their homework and select an agency that is ethical, professional and experienced in working financial services

Budget Decisions

In-House

  • Internal costs are tied primarily to salary, taxes and benefits paid to PR professionals
  • Consider the costs needed for key PR tools, such as media monitoring, research tools and press release distribution services

Agency

  • PR agencies charge for their services, usually as a monthly retainer or based on defined projects
  • Companies should also expect to pay for expenses incurred on their behalf, such as travel, press release distribution or printing costs
  • Be sure that outside expenses are clearly outlined during the sales process

Whichever direction your company chooses to use, make a commitment to hiring trained PR professionals, participating in public relations planning, and watch your organization’s brand and reputation grow.

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