Building Out Your Communications Team: Hire Staff or Engage a Firm?

Your company is growing. The work is mounting, and you know increasing bandwidth is the next step. If increasing bandwidth includes bolstering your communications team, do you hire staff? Or do you engage a communications firm?

Or maybe it’s the opposite. Company sales are slumping. And you know that if you could just get your story out there, the new work would begin to flow. Again, do you hire staff or engage a firm?

You’re facing a valid question, and the right decision will depend on a number of things:

  1. How important is it to have someone on site, all the time?

Do you need to be able to pop in to his or her office on a moment’s notice for a discussion? If you only need to meet with your communications team once or twice a week to touch base, or are comfortable communicating electronically, having a full-time staffer in the office doesn’t provide a significant advantage over hiring a firm.

  1. How sure are you of the actual duration and the scope of work?

Here’s the thing: if you hire someone to do a full-time job, you’re going to want to get 40 hours of solid work out of them every week, right? Hiring a firm that has the flexibility to ramp up or shift down based on need can give you more flexibility.

  1. Do you need multiple skill sets?

Communications encompasses a variety of skills and expertise (paid search, public relations, events, web development and design, etc.) Does the person you’re hiring have the necessary skill set to get the job(s) done? Are they comfortable doing press releases and doing web design if needed? A good communications firm will have specialists on staff that can handle various aspects of communications. This specialization means the quality of work may be higher than if you hire someone that doesn’t have all of the skills you need.

  1. Do you have the necessary skills to get the person up and running?

Onboarding a new hire is a lot of work, especially for smaller businesses and organizations that may already be understaffed and/or overworked. Larger organizations may already have the capacity and economies of scale to identify and vet candidates, hire, and train. If your organization is already stretched thin, it may be too much work to go through the hiring and training process.

Sometimes organizations will retain a firm then convert to staff. In fact, a communications firm can help you make sure you hire the right person, set strategy, and conduct the on boarding.

Bottom Line:

If you’re still not sure, err on the side of caution. Begin with a firm because you can always terminate the program if your needs change or if any issues arise.

Bringing on and training an employee can be time consuming, and once that person is a full-time employee, parting ways can be difficult if your needs change or if it’s not working out for any reason. What once seemed like a solution can turn into an HR nightmare very quickly.

Of course, these are just some issues to consider when deciding whether to hire a firm or hire in house for your communications needs. To properly weigh your options, it’s best to consult a professional to take a deeper dive into your organization’s needs.

Should You Hire A Public Affairs Firm or a Public Relations Firm?

At Targeted Persuasion, we get this question all the time. The truth is, it depends.

What are you trying to accomplish? What’s the difference in a public affairs firm and a public relations firm? Aren’t they the same?

Not really.

A public affairs firm focuses more on the political sphere. Its primary aim is to build and develop relations between an organization and politicians or governments. Public engagement and policy advocacy are well within a PA firm’s wheelhouse, as shaping public opinion around policy is a specialty.

Public affairs firms also perform some of the same functions as a public relations firm, especially when seeking publicity for organizations and responding to media issues and inquiries.

Public relations firms perform much broader functions. While public affairs can certainly be a component, the larger aim of PR firms is to manage the spread of information of and about an organization to the public.

If you are trying to shape public opinion around a policy, then I encourage you to seek out a public affairs firm.

Here’s why your choice of a public affairs firm matters:

  1. Public Affairs Firms Understand the Political Landscape.

Politics is a public affairs firm’s specialty. They have a background and previous experience working with local politicians in their city and state. This intensive background translates to a deep understanding of the political landscape in the area.

Public affairs firms are comfortable using polling to shape messaging and determine strategy. They can take your issue and know exactly what to do with it- who to go to, where to air the concern, and how to go about informing the public.

Remember, one tweet can sink your battleship before it even leaves port, so leave the messaging up to an experienced captain. Protect your message and put it into the capable hands of a public affairs firm.

  1. Public Affairs Firms are Comfortable Working with Lobbyists and Elected Officials.

A public affairs firm has relationships with lobbyists and elected officials already built out. This means that you can use their networks to advance your cause, rather than trying to build those contacts from scratch yourself. This will leave you ample time to work on the meat of your project, rather than worrying about setting up meetings with officials.

  1. Public Affairs Firms Know How to Craft Messaging to get the Public to Take Action.

Public affairs firms have a toolbox filled with ways to get the word out to the public about your issue. They have tried and tested petitions, town halls, and action alerts, each of which engages the public in a different way. Depending on your needs, the firm will craft messaging to get the public on board with your issue, leading to a successful campaign and the results you wanted.

Public affairs firms and public relations firms may seem indistinguishable at first glance, but the differences become clear. If you’re trying to get the word out about a campaign relating to policy, a public affairs firm is the clear winner. They understand the political landscape, they are specialized in outreach to local lobbyists and politicians, and they know how to craft attention-grabbing messaging. Use a public affairs firm to advance your campaign and you won’t be sorry!

5 Top Tools for Social Media Marketing

Are you tired of logging into six different social media profiles to post the same story from your organization? Save some time and headache with these five publishing tools for your business’s social media accounts. Many of them are affordable and come with extremely useful (and profitable) bells and whistles. Our top five picks are highlighted below!

1.PowerPost

PowerPost is our priciest entry on this list starting at $599/month, but its powerful software includes a centralized platform that you can use to create all drafts and use to post to six different social media platforms. You can customize each post from the dashboard and tailor it to each social media platform- ie, 160 characters for Twitter.

The dashboard can be a collaborative space for your whole team- anyone with the credentials can log in and work with the rest of your team simultaneously.

An analytics dashboard is also included so that you can view the engagement metrics for each and every post, enabling you to see what kind of content resonates with your audience. This tool is valuable because it can lead to increased profits as you increase click-through rates from your customers.

2. Buffer

 

Buffer is the most inexpensive entry on our list, with its free individual plan. You’ll only get one social media profile with this plan, but the plans including multiple social profiles are only slightly more expensive. Like PowerPost, you can manage all your accounts from one dashboard, and you’ll also have access to an image creator for your content.

Buffer’s main selling point is its automated post scheduling. Buffer’s software tracks engagement and posts automatically at times optimized for maximum engagement. It’ll take all the brainwork out of timing your posts, and you’ll hopefully see valuable returns in engagement from your audience. All you have to do is add posts to your Buffer queue and it’ll post them automatically.

Automated re-shares are also included- Buffer’s analytics can tell which content performed best, and it’ll re-share these top posts automatically.

3. Socedo

Socedo is moderately priced starting at $100/month. Its main strength is in its warm lead generation abilities that can vastly aid your sales efforts. Socedo’s software crawls Twitter and picks out chatter data including keywords that you set as relevant to your sales.

Socedo also syncs directly to customer relationship management systems such as Salesforce. Socedo’s analytics measure clickthroughs on your targeted posts, and will feed you rich data on these leads that can be transferred to your CRM of choice, allowing you to directly turn social media data into warm leads.

This software is best for increasing your sales easily, so it can affect your profits profoundly if you use it correctly.

4. Likeable Hub

Likeable Hub will help to remove most of the brainwork of coming up with content to post on your business’s social media accounts, making it ideal for a small business owner who can’t dedicate their limited time to social media marketing.

Likeable Hub’s idea library contains content ideas tailored to your industry. You can choose with one click and review and edit the posts; then they will be automatically published from your queue. This service starts at $299/month.

5. CoSchedule

CoSchedule is a drag-and-drop marketing calendar that allows you to visually plan your social media marketing. It works great for a marketing team, with multiple users able to sync themselves with the marketing calendar.

Another plus is its ability to sync both content creation apps such as Google Drive and WordPress, and distribution apps such as Facebook and Twitter. This will allow your team to create content separately, and then everything can be synchronized easily on the CoSchedule calendar.

CoSchedule has a feature called ReQueue, which fills social media calendar gaps with re-shares of top performing content, which it measures with engagement analytics. This way, even if your team drops the ball on scheduling, content will continue to be published during dry spells.

CoSchedule starts at $40/month for individuals, but since its strengths lie in its collaborative abilities, the pricing can range upward to $2200/month for established marketing teams with 25+ users.

Hopefully our helpful guide contains all the features that you need to know about in order to choose the best social media marketing tool for your business. There is a lot of variety out there, from tools catering to lead generation to tools containing pre-chosen content that publishes itself. Good luck!