(Vanshikha Chhabria, PR Consultant & Communication Specialist)
As World Public Relations Day approaches, this is crucial for spreading awareness about the PR and digital industries and the growing community of people working in this industry.
A brand's and company's reputation can be difficult to entrust to an outside agency or freelancer. It's true that entrepreneurs tend to be control freaks (who knew?).
However, it's also true that you can't do it alone and will eventually need to hire outside help. This is where what I coin " Think small " is the smart choice while making a decision.
As someone who has worked agency-side for years where freelance support was employed, to now being a complete freelancer myself, I hope to offer insight into why you should consider working with a PR freelancer over an agency.
1) Communication is the key
There will never be a time when PR freelancers are too busy for you. Freelancers often work on small projects because they want to keep their focus on what makes them special and unique. A big part of what makes them special is their focus on people and value-add. Their motto is "People do business with people they like."
Clear communication is a priority for them because they don't have time to be anything but forthright and upfront.
2) Complementing existing PR efforts
It’s not necessarily always an either-or decision between a freelancer or a PR agency. A freelancer can be the perfect support hire for a project or a busier period.
You have an upcoming awareness week and you want to make some noise in the press, or maybe you have a new quarterly marketing budget that allows you to hire a PR person, but not a full-time one?
Similarly, you could be an agency that requires more hands-on support during a busy period or needs someone with certain industry experience or niche contacts to bolster a client’s campaign.
Freelancers are flexible and most are used to working in a project style as opposed to being retained, so they are able to become a temporary or long-term (but part-time) team addition to a business or agency.
3) Value for money
The overhead costs of agencies make them much more expensive than freelancers. It is unlikely that PR freelancers will ask for a full-time salary and benefits.
Instead, they will probably ask for a per-project/release charge. Compared to hiring an agency that might rent out a space and hire others to assist, this is a lot cheaper. Choosing a freelancer over an agency allows companies to spend less without sacrificing quality.
Don't forget, however, that cheap is expensive in the long run. By hiring a freelancer, you're not just buying PR services, you're also buying years of media contacts, strategic insight, and experience!
4) You will get a specialist skillset
Most professionals choose to become freelancers since they have acquired extensive skills and have developed specialized talent for their work.
Therefore, hiring a freelancer has its perks over hiring an agency. They have most likely spent years perfecting that craft, so they can help you with your company's needs. A freelancer with more experience can add more value to a project.
Additionally, a growing number of freelancers specialize in other services such as social media, influencers, and events, as well as PR and media relations.
Being able to combine a traditional PR background with a digital PR background is one of the reasons I went freelance. Despite the changing industry, only a few agencies combine both types of PR or offer both services. Now I can work with businesses who want either approach or sometimes both.
5) You will have more time, priority, and flexibility
By hiring freelancers, you can customize their schedules to meet the needs and priorities of your company. In general, they have fewer projects than agencies, which means your project can be their number one priority.
This may include working outside normal business hours of 9 am to 6 pm. Working with companies is crucial to their business, so they will most likely want to provide exceptional service and meet all your needs.
It is a new level of transparency to have direct contact with the person in charge of your PR on the front line with the press, as well as the person who reports and measures your KPIs.
Having a good client relationship is in a freelancer's best interest, since referrals, recommendations, and repeat work are often what make up their business. It becomes quite reassuring and comforting to know you are a priority.
6) Long-term commitment is not required
Freelancers are usually hired for one specific project, either short or long-term, and for a certain period of time. Since they are hired on a need-to-hire basis, they move on once they have completed their work.
The good news is that most freelancers will not request 12-month contracts if they are not necessary for their business.
Many freelancers will happily take on relatively short pieces of PR or copywriting work at relatively short notice, as long as they have the capacity, with retained clients working on more flexible terms. It keeps the PR interested and the client happy.
It is crucial that you identify your own business objectives before approaching any PR professionals. Does your goal involve expanding your business into a new region, attracting a new audience, or attracting a new customer?
You can then use these objectives to determine your PR objectives, your audience, and who will deliver the program.
If it’s something you haven’t considered before and you’d like to discuss more, or if you’re looking for support with your PR, or assistance in identifying your business and PR objectives, then do get in touch.
You can get in touch with Vanshikha Chhabria via LinkedIn.