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What is a PR consultant? And why use them?

I was chatting to my husband's 85-year-old grandmother on the phone the other day, and she said, "Charlotte, I read an article in the paper the other day about PR consultants and why businesses use them, and I finally understand what you do now!" Laughing and thinking it was very cute, I wrapped up the conversation and hunted for the story online. A quick Google and Esther Taunton's Stuff article popped up.

I must admit that I thought it would be the usual swipe at communications and public relations professionals, i.e. money wastage, government blowout on consultancy fees, spin doctors etc. That story is getting pretty boring, if I'm honest. But having read Esther's article, it was fair and informative and worth a read.

From my perspective, the key reasons you would engage a PR/Comms agency or consultant are varied but are usually because you require specialised expertise, resources, and a strategic approach, typically over a specific period. 

Can that expertise be pricey? For sure! Especially if you head down the wrong pathway; not only costly in terms of the hourly rate but also engaging an agency that doesn't have the expertise to deliver on your objectives. It will also be costly if you're racking up fees due to lacking a clear brief and agreed scope of work.

Do your due diligence before you engage a consultant or agency. Once you do, there are many benefits that you can gain from the relationship, including:

  1. Obtaining specialised services that you may not have in-house

    PR agencies bring expertise and industry knowledge, allowing them to craft tailored strategies and execute targeted campaigns. From media relations and crisis management to content creation and influencer outreach, the right professional will possess the skills to navigate the intricate world of PR effectively.

  2. Gaining an external perspective

    When you're engrossed in the day-to-day operations of your business, it can be challenging to maintain an objective viewpoint. Consultants can identify opportunities, pinpoint weaknesses, and devise strategies aligning with your goals. Their fresh insights can inject new life into your communications, ensuring your brand stays relevant and resonates with your target audience.

  3. Augmenting in-house capacity

    In-house comms teams may face resource constraints, especially during peak periods or when tackling complex projects. Engaging a consultant provides a valuable opportunity to boost your team's capacity. By leveraging the agency's expertise and workforce, you can overcome staffing limitations and execute comprehensive PR initiatives without overwhelming your internal resources.

  4. Mentorship and support

    Consultants offer invaluable mentorship and support for organisations looking to develop their in-house PR capabilities. They can serve as trusted advisors, guiding your team members and helping them refine their skills. By collaborating closely, your in-house team can gain invaluable knowledge, experience, and confidence to handle future PR challenges more effectively - and from my experience working in-house without the right mentor, this is hugely valuable for professional development!

  5. Strategic lens

    An external consultant or agency brings a strategic lens to your PR efforts. They have a deep understanding of industry trends, consumer behaviour, and competitor landscapes. Their strategic guidance ensures that your communications are aligned with your business goals, fostering long-term growth and sustainability.

  6. Achieve desired results

    If your PR efforts fall short of expectations, it may be time to bring in external expertise. Everything in comms and PR is measurable, and the right consultant can provide a track record of delivering results. By leveraging their established media relationships and communication channels, they can generate valuable publicity, increase brand visibility, and drive positive engagement.

  7. Cost-effectiveness

    Engaging the right agency can be more cost-effective than hiring and training full-time PR professionals. The keywords here are THE RIGHT AGENCY. You don't need to pay over $200 per hour for a senior-level consultant.

Engaging an agency or consultant can be enormously valuable to your business! I've written plenty of blogs about this! With an agency, you gain access to diverse expertise to handle different aspects of your PR strategy, ensuring the best use of resources. There should be no shame in engaging consultants - make sure you do your due diligence, that what you're paying is fair and reasonable for the expertise provided, and that you have a clear brief and deliverables in place. Then you're home sailing and winning on the brand credibility, trust and reputation front.

Want to know more? Drop me a message, and let's chat.

Chalkboard showing what Belle PR is as consultance