Tech PR, Healthcare PR, Financial PR, Sustainability PR, and others require the best public relations

***This post originally appeared on Medium***

In-house marketing and communications professionals all face the decision at some point in their career: to hire an internal public relations professional, or outsource to a PR firm that specializes in your industry. This is especially true in the start up space, especially for companies seeking tech PR, healthcare PR, and sustainability PR solutions. Rapidly evolving industries require nimble media relations strategists to execute the best public relations efforts.

However the size of the company, the stakes can be high and also very expensive. Should you choose in-house, you must be prepared to add a new dynamic to your office, and also extra costs in the form of employee salary, taxes and benefits.

On the other hand, should you choose to retain an agency, you must be prepared for monthly retainer costs. Depending on the scope of services provided, you’ll also likely need someone internally who is capable of managing the firm.

The point is, these are both commitments that need to be outlined upfront and navigated appropriately to succeed.

There are pros and cons for doing each, and as someone who has survived nearly a decade of agency life and also managed communications/marketing teams internally, I feel just qualified enough to show you were to start.

First, determine why you want to hire a PR firm. Is it to support a major news announcement? Build online search using articles and media mentions to bolster SEO? Create sales and marketing literature? Your answer to this question will impact your need for hiring to meet these objectives. Let me explain.

If you’re the one responsible for managing the marketing and communications department and functions, your title is likely Director of Communications, VP of Marketing, Head of Business Development, etc. This means you’re expected to achieve media visibility, put a blogging/content marketing schedule together, write press releases, etc. All fun and good, right?

But what happens when your company attends a trade show? You’re likely the one organizing the booth and giveaways. One of your biz dev or salespeople needs a sales deck by end of day? Guess who’s jumping on that. Website a little stale? They’re looking at you to manage the brand refresh.

VPs of Marketing…I can sense you nodding along, maybe even screaming “that’s me!” at your computer screen showing a web browser with 35 tabs and seven versions of a PowerPoint presentation.

ESPECIALLY in a startup environment, you’re wearing a lot of hats, many of them far outside the traditional marcomm responsibilities so carefully outlined in your job description. When you jump on these items, what happens to the media coverage, SEO boosts and social media presence you set out to build? They can very easily fall by the wayside.

If you have the bandwidth to hire graphic designers, SEO specialists, writers and media specialists…I get it. It’s not a bad idea, and it’s the same route I took in 2011 when I was building out a corporate comms function. Having an internal team to manage media outreach for enabled us to have the best public relations program possible put into place.

But what if you don’t have the budget, time or infrastructure? Hiring a PR firm capable of managing key initiatives you were hired for — media relations, email marketing, social media, SEO and content writing — may be the better solution.

Perspective is also an important aspect of this discussion. Working in-house, especially for a startup or in any fast-moving corporate environment, often means taking orders directly from and consistently interacting with the c-suite. Sometimes it can be very challenging to push back on creative ideas, media/marketing campaigns, and other ideas that company leaders cook up in their downtime. Hiring a PR firm, especially one who knows your respective industry very well, means you’re going to get real-time feedback from a group who’ve been through dozens or hundreds of campaigns, and can push back appropriately to ensure things are done right, not done because it’s the CEO’s vision. This perspective can mean everything, and the difference between the best public relations support or something that is rendered ineffective.

If you’re reading this and convinced I’m advocating to always hire a PR firm (after all, I’m biased), that’s only partially true. I think hiring the right PR firm capable of providing the best public relations support is much more important than hiring one at all. If you can find a group that not only manages the marketing and communications functions you don’t have time for, but more importantly understands how they all work together, you’ll be in a better place.

If you hire a firm that does one or two things well but requires your hand holding to complete ideas or doesn’t understand your big picture objectives, I’d recommend hiring in-house…even if that means a contractor model.

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.

Technology PR

FischTank is pleased to announce that President Matthew Bretzius and Senior Account Director Kate Caruso-Sharpe will present an overview on corporate communications and media relations strategy with an emphasis on technology PR, for international technology companies at the CANUTE Program hosted by the Royal Consulate General of Denmark in New York on Wednesday, October 9.

Supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Denmark and Danske Bank, the Royal Consulate General of Denmark in New York is hosting more than a dozen select technology startups from Denmark for an entrepreneurial bootcamp, offering a tailored program on how to successfully enter the U.S. market. During the three-day event, startup founders will engage with investors, recruitment specialists, and marketing experts to gain a better understanding of how to scale their company to one of the largest markets in the world.

Bretzius and Caruso-Sharpe will lead an interactive discussion centering on marketing and communications strategies that are critical to the successful launch into U.S. markets, including media relations, content marketing, search engine optimization, social media, and email marketing. Participating startups will have the opportunity to ask business-specific questions relating to their own marketing initiatives, while also learning about the work FischTank has done with a number of international brands, both startup and established, to develop and deploy effective messaging to reach U.S. business audiences. Technology PR remains a core practice area for FischTank for companies both domestic and abroad.

“Entering the U.S. market can be an overwhelming task for any international technology company, often leading to marketing and communications functions falling by the wayside,” said Matt Bretzius, President, FischTank Marketing and PR. “We look forward to discussing tactics to fully integrate and scale digital and traditional public relations activities so that companies flourish in their new markets and achieve the brand awareness necessary to stand apart.”

Following the educational portion of the program, VCs, business angels, accelerators, incubators, and others are invited to participate in this year’s Investor Day. During that event, ten selected startups from Denmark will pitch their tech businesses to a panel and audience with the goal of raising their next funding round to expand into the U.S. market. FischTank looks forward to providing technology PR insights for these companies.

“We are excited to bring some of the best startups Denmark has to offer to the U.S. for this valuable program. While many have found success in the Danish market, the next logical step is to expand to larger international audiences, and this event will give them a head start toward doing so,” said Mia Grosen, Founder of the CANUTE Program. “We look forward to working with FischTank and the other participating experts to provide the knowledge and resources our startups need to succeed on a global scale.”

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.

LinkedIn is a social platform FischTank utilizes to augment many a client's PR program

One of the things the entire FischTank team advocates is the importance of consistent messaging across web, media relations, sales literature, email marketing and social media.

For B2B industries, LinkedIn is such an important tool within marketing and communications, and has the ability to positively impact the public’s perception of a brand or individual. People and organizations need to be informative, compelling, knowledgeable and most important – authentic.

I shared some of my thoughts on this subject, specifically with respect to authenticity and frequency of posting, with Kiely Kuligowski of Business News Daily for an article entitled LinkedIn for Business: Everything You Need to Know.

It’s a small tidbit, but I hope readers find it useful. I’ve always placed a premium on my LinkedIn network, and its been instrumental to me and FischTank as we’ve grown this business.

Your PR firm should be asking about your social strategy and thinking about how it can improve your marketing and communications functions, and ultimately achieve your organization’s objectives.

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.