When it comes to generating media coverage for your SaaS company, you generally have two options: hire a B2B tech PR agency, or hire a full-time employee. While it may seem like comparing apples to pineapples, when you think about it, you’re hiring one or the other to do one job: secure meaningful media coverage. We’re betting you already know the general strengths of in-house talent, but maybe are not as familiar with the benefits of hiring an agency.
Below are five factors to consider when deciding between a full-time employee and a PR agency.
1. Cheers to 50 years (of experience).
Media relations requires a skill set that diverges from marketing. The ability to communicate effectively with journalists — understanding how they think and what they need — and then translating a company’s mission into a story worth covering is complicated choreography that takes years to master. A public relations agency, depending on the account team size, may bring anywhere from 20-50 years of collective experience to a client account. According to Glassdoor, the average base pay for a senior level PR professional is about $89k. In other words, if you agency PR team includes even 1-2 senior level professionals, you’re looking at expertise that you’d typically only get in-house with a $180k plus investment.
In addition, agencies are credited with producing the highest-performing professionals in the PR industry. The creative problem-solving and teamwork required in an agency setting is difficult to replicate elsewhere. Not to mention that, like technology, PR moves at lightning speed — or, more specifically — the speed of news. If you work in a high-growth B2B technology company, knowing your PR team can pivot as quickly and gracefully as you do while keeping results flowing is key.
2. No man is an island.
A quick Cision search (more on that momentarily) reveals that more than a quarter of a million journalists work at US publications alone. When dealing with an industry as large and volatile as media, having a team in place to keep tabs on what journalists are up to is crucial. It’s just too big of a job for one person — making an agency team the ideal fit for this type of role.
On the opposite end, it’s impossible for journalists to keep track of every technology company as well. Journalists often prioritize PR agencies they have come to know and trust, sending requests for sources to those agencies before (or instead of) anyone else. When those requests do arrive, healthy agencies share them internally to ensure each account rep weighs in on behalf of his or her clients.
3. Tools of the trade.
Just like a modern sales team needs a CRM, PR comes with its own list of tools required for success. At a minimum, an in-house PR professional will need a comprehensive media database and a media monitoring tool. A media database (like Cision, mentioned above) allows PR pros to identify the best reporters to pitch and pull contact information that is, often, not available for public consumption. A media monitoring tool is essential to gathering TV and radio mentions, international mentions and mentions within small (but mighty) trade publications — some of which can’t be found by searching Google alone.Like any high-quality tech tool, media database and media monitoring tools come at a price.
Comprehensive media databases tend to cost upwards of $18k annually and a media monitoring tools tend to start around $8k per year. On top of that, many agencies use more than one of each! If you’re thinking of hiring full-time PR person, keep in mind that you will not only need to budget for his or her salary but also $26k or more per year in tools needed to get the job done.
4. Agencies aren’t needy.
Unlike an in-house PR pro, businesses don’t need to provide an agency with benefits. You don’t need to appoint an employee whose entire role is to be an agency’s “manager.” You don’t need to include your outsourced PR team in your headcount for your monthly company lunch. You don’t have to give an agency a raise, or even a performance review (although, we welcome the feedback). Typically, all a PR agency will ask of you is a standing, 30-minute call each week, access to your company spokespeople and existing content.
5. There just aren’t that many options.
Agency benefits aside, it’s important to note that, at the time this blog was published, the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics had just revealed that job openings outnumbered job seekers for the first time in recorded history. That means, for high-performing companies, talent is extraordinarily difficult to come by — especially senior-level talent. While this likely won’t always be the case, currently, if you do go the route of hiring a full-time, PR professional with at least three years of experience, your candidate pool may be very small or nonexistent.
Think that hiring a PR agency might be a better option for your company than adding to your in-house marketing team? Contact Lindsey Groepper to learn more about what a B2B tech PR agency could do for your SaaS company.