Q&A Tuesday: Should I hire a freelancer or a PR Agency

This weeks question comes from a start-up tech entrepreneur Ghazala’s.She writes: “Could you clarify how you work in comparison to a PR agency? Do you work with start-ups and big companies? What is your area of expertise? Should I hire a freelancer or a PR Agency? This all helps. Thanks.’’ 

My approach to business and PR is a little bit unconventional, and I like it that way. Although I’m a freelancer, I have a small, permanent team of a copywriter and assistant who I love to bits and have been working with for the last past seven years.

Potential clients are often surprised when I contact them and don’t try and sell them something! My main intention is to find out if we are a good fit, bring them real value and meet their objectives. That’s why my clients vary from start-ups to industry veterans. 

As for my history, I started off in fashion PR and when some of my clients went on to launch their own bridal collections, they hired me for the promotion too. I found myself gaining beauty and grooming clients mostly through word of mouth as well as landing one of the biggest Mixed Martial Arts promotions in the world. Even though they come from such different environments, my working principles have always remained the same for each client – define a set of identifiable and realistic objectives, then find a compelling way to tell client’s story to their targeted audiences. 

If it’s clear that I’m not the best fit for the project or potential client, then I point them in the direction of more suitable agencies or freelancers. 

My own area of expertise is in creating ideal PR campaigns that can then be developed into lean and very efficient communications strategies for brands with a clear vision whose products or services I would use myself, or truly believe in. 

The ‘classic’ PR agencies usually have dedicated departments for ‘fashion & lifestyle’, ‘beauty’, ‘finance’, ‘tech’ etc. Some also have advertising, marketing and social media departments and can provide 360 communications strategies.

PR agencies usually assign a team or an account manager that will handle several clients. In most cases, PR agencies also have dedicated personnel charged with bringing in new clients. While, I handle client acquisition, retention and account management myself – as well as press relations of course – I never take on more than three clients at a time. This guarantees them the seamless quality of the service they require. 

PR agency account managers and freelancers will provide pretty much same type of service. 

The benefits of hiring an established agency is for their network, contacts, credo and reputation. If they have big clients that are advertisers, they are far more able and likely to ask for favours to get placements for their smaller clients. They also have more personnel, capacity and capability to cater for just about every client’s needs.  

So, which one should you hire?

If we put the question of budget aside, the best way to decide is to check the track record the agency or freelancer has for getting placements in your industry. Do they have the right connections? Can they show you examples and case studies of the coverage secured for their previous clients within your industry? If they both do, then it’s just up to you to see which one feels the better fit. Do they share your philosophy, work ethic and your commitment? It also comes down to relationships. Would you feel happier working with an agency or a freelancer if both can meet your objectives?

Ghazala, that’s the A to your Q. Assets, I hope you’ve enjoyed this A, remember you can email me directly to get your PR questions answered next Tuesday.