Trylon Communications  - April 2004

Outsourcing PR?

Reading the title, one might think we’re talking about “why you should outsource your PR needs…to us!” In fact, it’s referring to recent stories suggesting that the outsourcing trend that has seen manufacturing and tech jobs move overseas may hit the marketing and PR communities soon.

According to this argument, the same factors that have manufacturers and tech companies locating entire staffs overseas will affect white-collar work as well. Technological advances make it as cost effective to place a phone call from India to the U.S. as it is to call across town. Skilled labor available at fractions of the cost of U.S. labor makes outsourcing attractive to companies that are compelled to cut costs.

Forrester Research has predicted that 3.3 million jobs will move overseas in the next dozen years – with 2 million of them executive positions. Considering that many companies seek outside expertise for their PR and media relations, what’s to keep them from engaging a firm in the Philippines?

It would not be effective for a number of reasons. First of all, true PR and media work requires long-term relationships with media members. A level of trust, rapport and understanding needs to be established to receive proper recognition and media placements. In addition, there are many subtleties in media relations, ranging from understanding attribution, ground rules and other ways that the U.S. press works within the context of the First Amendment and other cultural/business factors that cannot be grasped on a phone line from halfway around the world.

Second, the main contribution of a good PR agency is in the consulting area. Defining the PR messaging, understanding a client’s business and the ever-changing dynamics of their respective industries, all while targeting the correct (shifting) media is as important, if not more so, than the tactical execution of those strategies. While a company may be able to relegate simple technical and telemarketing to an agency in another country, integrating them into cohesive and effective PR campaigns requires special expertise.

Finally, what you pay for PR is much less important than what you receive from your investment. We have been a proponent of non-billable hours, results-based compensation for years - in a time of increasing competition both at home and abroad, this type of structure makes more sense than ever.