Public Relations Agency vs. In-House PR Departments

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  • 0:03 The World of Public Relations
  • 0:40 PR Agencies
  • 2:52 In-House PR Departments
  • 4:58 PR Expectations
  • 5:42 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: LeRon Haire
Once you complete this lesson, you'll be able to distinguish between public relations (PR) agencies and in-house PR departments, as well as understand the advantages and disadvantages of each.

The World of Public Relations

The current business world we live in is constantly changing. With the rapid pace of advancing technology, businesses must try everything they can to remain one step ahead of their competitors. One of the primary strategies for businesses to get ahead of the competition is the use of public relations, or PR, which is a set of activities or events that are coordinated to provide mutually effective benefits for a business and the public.

There are two primary types of PR outfits that businesses can use, and we will learn about them in more detail through the rest of this lesson. They are PR agencies and in-house PR departments.

PR Agencies

So what exactly is a PR agency, you ask? A PR agency is an independent, functioning unit designed to serve multiple businesses by helping them to bridge the gap between the business and the public. PR agencies are in place to not only promote their clients but to help the public gain a positive perception of the organization. Since these agencies are independent, they must typically have several employees that are able to spearhead PR initiatives for different organizations at the same time.

A competent PR agency should be able to perform the following tasks (at a minimum):

  • Create press releases
  • Write or edit speeches
  • Be well-versed in handling PR crisis situations
  • Write blogs
  • Create pitches and proposals

Let's take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of a PR agency.

PR Agency Advantages

One advantage to a PR agency is that they have more people. Since PR agencies have an expansive number of employees, it allows them to have multiple perspectives on how to improve their clients' relationship with the public.

PR agencies also have a strong list of contacts. A successful PR agency has the power to contact many influential members of the media, which can only be beneficial for organizations seeking to improve relations with the public.

Another advantage is knowledge of the industry. A reputable PR agency will have extensive knowledge and expertise in knowing how to get the job done for their clients.

PR Agency Disadvantages

Obviously, there are also disadvantages of PR agencies. First is price. Since PR agencies are independent with multiple employees, it can be costly to obtain their services. They also tend to provide only a generalized, or non-specific, understanding of the problem. Because they deal with many clients at once, PR agencies may only understand the general problem that their individual clients are facing without knowing the entire scope of the problem, which could lead to unsatisfied consumers and the public.

Another disadvantage is a PR agency's investment of time. PR agencies often charge clients according to their time worked. If PR agencies are unable to fix the problem quickly, then there is the possibility that more time is needed, which equals more money paid.

In-House PR Departments

On the opposite end of the spectrum, many organizations have in-house PR departments. An in-house PR department is a PR unit that functions as a part of an organization and is not independent. Simply stated, this means that the PR department is housed right there in the business facility and is only in place to assist that particular organization's PR needs. Let's look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of in-house PR departments.

In-House PR Advantages

One advantage is that they have a company-centric focus. Since the in-house PR department only works for a specific organization, or one client, they are able to give their full, undivided attention to PR matters and create unique solutions. In-house PR departments also provide a stable environment. With serving only one client, in-house PR departments are faced with much more job stability in comparison to their PR agency cousins.

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