As a small to mid-sized company, you and your team likely wear many hats on any given day. While you are probably familiar with marketing communications and public relations (PR), you may not be clear on the differences between them, what your business really needs, or how to go about resourcing these key areas.
Or perhaps you’re already doing some marketing and PR. You may be blogging, speaking at conferences, or doing occasional media interviews. But the day-to-day operation of your business always takes priority and leaves little time to build any momentum around these strategies.
You may now be at the point when you realize you need help to take your company and brand awareness to the next level. But what is the best approach for bringing on strategic communications support?
There are several possibilities to explore. You can hire internally or externally -- or a combination of both, depending on your budget and overall needs. Outlined below is an overview of the options to consider:
Option 1: Hire Entry Level
When resources are limited, many smaller companies will hire an entry or junior level employee who may or may not have all the necessary skills. They are affordable and can be trained and molded with the right guidance and management. They may have some basic skills and abilities, such as in social media, graphic design, or writing that can help you in getting started on marketing and PR. However, they may not have the more nuanced communication expertise and experience, like crafting a media strategy, writing a message framework, and conducting and maintaining media relations. And while your associate may have potential, they will likely require time and guidance.
Option 2: Bring on a Seasoned Professional
Hiring a dedicated senior level communications or PR person is another option, but it will cost a lot more. While this person should have strong strategic planning and writing skills, tactical implementation, and other talents such as graphic design and video production may not be their expertise. So, you may end up hiring other support staff too, and now your marketing spend is already higher than you allocated.
Option 3: Go the Agency Route
Another route is to work with an agency where you’ll get an experienced and cohesive external team offering the perfect blend of strategy experience and tactical execution abilities. Smaller to mid-sized companies may prefer a micro-agency, a boutique and independent consultancy made up of experienced consultants who bring an ideal mix of today’s marketing/communication skills together in one package. The team partners with you to create a strategy and then executes and manages that strategy. Unlike larger firms, a micro-agency can provide its clients with more personalized attention, customized strategies, and flexibility in costs and commitments. The right agency can become a true partner - and an extension of your business - working closely with you to achieve your goals.
As your company grows, you may still seek to add an internal marketing or communications manager to serve as the point person that oversees the external agency’s activities while connecting with key stakeholders internally to ensure strategic imperatives are aligned. This may allow you to focus on a strategic, higher-level role rather than daily involvement. Or you may choose to simply stick with external partners only, once you realize the value it brings your organization.