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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.