Outside PR Counsel? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Outside Counsel!

7 06 2010

Much like the bandito in the Mel Brooks movie Blazing Saddles who said: “Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges” … there are some executives who think their companies don’t need outside PR counsel.

And they may be right.

Having worked on both the client and agency sides, I can attest that hiring outside PR support can be a BIG waste of your time, effort and money … especially if:

  • Your company doesn’t value outside, objective perspective;
  • Your internal resources have all the deep knowledge, the  wide experience and the sound judgment you’ll ever need to meet any situation your company may face;
  • Your internal staff is large enough to meet all the manpower needs of peak activities and crisis situations effectively; and
  • You and your executives know more than anyone else, so you don’t need any advice or help.

Most executives recognize, however, that they are not experts in everything, and that their companies need to focus on their core competencies … and fill in the gaps by aligning themselves with outside resources that bring special expertise in other important areas … such as PR.

If your company chooses the right agency for the right reasons – that is, one whose skill set and experience complements your own in-house knowledge and capabilities – you’ll be able to leverage some valuable assets:

  • Communication savvy – Broad knowledge of practical communications channels, approaches, strategies and tactics;
  • Perspective – Detailed knowledge of your industry and new insights on your company, its customers and its competitors;
  • Connections - Working relationships with the key media, bloggers and other influentials that impact your industry space;
  • Judgment – Objectivity, perspective and understanding derived from their arms-length distance from your company and their experience in handling similar situations for other clients;
  • Ideas – Creative yet practical approaches that are spawned by their experience with other companies, industries and markets; and
  • Manpower – the extra people, processes and resources to help you get the job done, especially when timing is short and things have to go perfectly.

When I was a young corporate PR manager, I questioned the need for the outside agency we were using. Couldn’t I do everything they were doing? I thought so … at least for a while. Over the period of a few months, I came to the realization that the firm wasn’t competing for my job, but was a rich resource for me to tap to be make our efforts more effective. Working together, we accomplished much more than I could alone.

The bottom line: Outside PR counsel can be a godsend … or a waste … it all depends upon your needs and how you use your agency.

What has your experience been with outside PR counsel?


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