PR Agency or PR Freelancer? Which Should you Choose?
So you’ve decided to invest in PR – a wise choice! But who should you hire – an agency or a freelancer? The reality is both have their merits and the decision will ultimately come down to your objectives and the services you need to accomplish them.
To help you decide which is best for your business, I’ve put freelancers and agencies head to head in a five-round match
Freelance and agency fees for PR can vary greatly. In general, though, freelance PRs tend to be less expensive, as they have lower overheads. Some can charge per project, which means you only pay them when they’re working for you.
Many agencies charge a minimum monthly retainer regardless of whether you use their services, and there may be additional fees for planning, strategy, admin, and so on.
Of course, price shouldn’t be your primary consideration, but everyone wants value for money. Before making a decision, make sure you understand exactly what your PR is going to achieve for your budget.
When it comes to flexibility, freelancers can build their schedule around your needs and priorities, including travelling to your office and operating outside of normal working hours. This can be crucial, for example if you’re dealing with a communications crisis.
Flexibility varies with agencies. As they’re working with multiple clients – many of them household brands and multi-nationals – it can hamper their ability to quickly respond to your needs. For this reason, if you go with an agency, it’s important to establish a good line of communication with them, and gauge their responsiveness. If you choose to work with a freelancer, they’ll always be at the end of the phone when you need them
Meeting with agencies and completing their registration process can take days or weeks, but you can often hire a freelancer after a brief exchange of emails.
Turnaround time is another key consideration. Some freelancers can accommodate last-minute requests or respond to emails on weekends, whereas agencies can be limited to 9-5 working hours and may take more time to mobilise.
Most experienced freelance PRs are passionate about producing a quality product and will work tirelessly to ensure you’re satisfied. Agencies, however, can some times be helter-skelter in terms of quality. Because multiple representatives and assistants are usually involved in a single project, requests communicated amongst personnel can easily be lost. It’s often much easier for one person to work on your brief, to assure quality results.
You may think experience in your sector is crucial, so it’s tempting to work with an agency that already works with your competitors. But sometimes a freelancer who doesn’t know your sector can bring fresh thinking and new ideas to a campaign.
Either way, it’s critical to thoroughly investigate case studies and success stories. What coverage has been achieved in the past and where? What sort of relationships has the agency or freelancer got with key journalists, writers and bloggers?
Remember, everything depends on your specific project and needs. Take a good look at your objectives, timeline, internal skill-set, and budget, and use them as a framework to find the best possible partner for your PR campaign.