PR Agency vs In-House Public Relations: 2024 Guide

Last Update:

9 mins

Delve into the pros and cons of PR agencies and in-house PR teams, aiding in making an informed decision for your brand's needs.


Reviewed by Chloe Bidle

Creative social media strategist, driving engagement and innovation.

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  1. The Role of a PR Agency: The Basics
  2. Making the Decision - Factors to Consider
    1. Budget and Cost-Efficiency
    2. Control and Oversight
    3. Expertise and Specialization
    4. Flexibility and Scalability
    5. Network and Media Connections
    6. Long-term vs. Short-term Needs
  3. The Pros and Cons of a PR Agency
  4. The Pros and Cons of an In-House Team
  5. The Bottom Line
  6. Frequently Asked Questions
    1. What are the main differences between working with an external PR agency and managing public relations in-house?
    2. Can you outline the benefits of having an in-house public relations team versus outsourcing to a PR agency?
    3. What are the potential drawbacks of relying solely on in-house public relations?
    4. How do the roles and responsibilities of in-house public relations professionals compare to those in PR agencies?
    5. Which factors should a company consider when deciding between an in-house PR department and collaborating with an agency?
    6. Looking into 2024, how is the public relations industry expected to evolve, and what impact might this have on the decision to use in-house or agency PR services?

Deciding between a PR agency and building your own in-house public relations team can significantly impact your brand's communication strategies. In 2024, with the public relations industry evolving rapidly due to technological advances and shifting market dynamics, making an informed choice has never been more critical. Your decision will shape how effectively you manage your brand's image, respond to crises, and connect with your target audience. Each option presents unique advantages and challenges that must be considered in the context of your organizational goals and resources.

When you opt for a PR agency, you gain access to a breadth of experience, a diverse set of skills, and a wider industry network. Agencies are equipped to deploy a range of strategies, drawing on their exposure to various clients and sectors. This can enrich your brand's approach to communication with innovative and tested methods. On the other hand, an in-house team offers a concentrated focus on your brand and is immersed in your company culture, potentially leading to strategies that are deeply aligned with your core values and objectives. Such teams can provide a consistent brand message, ensure swift communication, and afford more direct control over public relations activities.

Aligning with an agency or nurturing an in-house department involves not only analyzing the immediate benefits but also considering long-term implications for your brand's reputation and industry standing. While agencies might bring a cutting-edge perspective and adapt quickly to industry trends, an in-house team allows for a tailored approach that evolves with your internal company trajectory. Your decision in 2024 hinges on a balance between external expertise and internal integration, each path offering a different set of tools to construct and maintain your brand's public persona.

The Role of a PR Agency: The Basics

When you partner with a PR agency, you're employing a team of specialists who bring a blend of expertise, skills, and experience to promote and protect your brand's image. Unlike in-house teams, PR agencies work across a variety of clients which can enrich their approach with a diverse perspective.

Media Relations: Central to a PR agency's role is media outreach. This involves building and maintaining robust relationships with journalists, influencers, and digital platforms to secure coverage and manage your public perception.

  • Expertise & Skills: You gain access to professionals who specialize in strategic communication and have honed their skills over different campaigns and contexts within the PR industry.
  • Experience: Agencies bring a wealth of experience from working with various clients, offering you insights that can be pivotal for your campaigns.

PR Campaigns: Crafting compelling PR campaigns is a complex process that agencies navigate with creativity and precision, positioning your brand effectively in the market.

Network: A significant advantage is an agency's built-in network, which includes media contacts and industry relationships, vital for amplifying your campaigns.

Agency Life: Engaging with a PR agency also means tapping into the pulse of PR industry trends and practices that can elevate your brand's communication strategies to resonate with your audiences.

In short, a public relations agency is a strategic partner in managing your brand's narrative through a mix of media savvy, industry know-how, and interconnected networks to enhance your market presence.

Making the Decision - Factors to Consider

When weighing the choice between hiring a PR agency or building an in-house public relations team, your decision should align with strategic business goals and available resources. Each approach has unique benefits and drawbacks that can impact your organization's public relations outcomes.

Budget and Cost-Efficiency

Your budget plays a critical role in determining whether to outsource to a PR agency or to establish an in-house team. Factor in not just the immediate costs, but the potential long-term value for money. Agencies can be costlier up-front but may offer a broad range of services that, if separately sourced, could add to expenses when managed in-house.

  • PR Agency: Up-front costs plus retainer fees
  • In-House PR: Salaries, benefits, training, and resource outlay

Control and Oversight

If control and oversight are central to your strategy, an in-house PR team allows for closer direction and alignment with company culture. You have direct leadership and accountability, which can be critical when the PR activities are deeply intertwined with the sensitive aspects of your business.

  • In-House PR: Direct management and immediate oversight
  • PR Agency: Indirect control, dependent on contracts and communication

Expertise and Specialization

Consider whether you need broad or niche specialization. Agencies offer immediate access to a pool of experienced professionals with diverse talents and skills, catering to various PR sectors. In contrast, in-house teams can be cultivated to develop deep expertise tailored specifically to your company's industry and needs.

  • PR Agency: Broad talent pool with diverse skills
  • In-House PR: Potential for deep, company-specific specialization

Flexibility and Scalability

Your need for adaptability and growth will influence your decision. Agencies offer flexibility to scale services up or down based on your current needs, making them a suitable option for short-term projects or during periods of rapid change. Building an in-house team is a commitment to long-term growth and may require more time to adapt to shifting demands.

  • PR Agency: Adaptive to varying workloads and easy scalability
  • In-House PR: Structured for steady, long-term growth with less scalability

Network and Media Connections

Agencies usually have established media relationships and a wide network of media contacts, which can be leveraged for your PR purposes. Assess if the advantage of an agency's existing media connections offers more than what your in-house team could build over time.

  • PR Agency: Extensive media network immediately accessible
  • In-House PR: Building of media contacts over time specific to the business

Long-term vs. Short-term Needs

Finally, align your choice with your future planning and immediate goals. An in-house team is a significant investment aimed at long-term strategy and brand consistency. In contrast, a PR agency can be engaged for specific short-term projects or to supplement in-house capabilities during peak activity periods or for specialized campaigns.

  • In-House PR: Investment in a long-term communications strategy
  • PR Agency: Ideal for project-based engagements and immediate goals

The Pros and Cons of a PR Agency

When you're considering how to handle your public relations needs, choosing between an in-house team and outsourcing to a PR agency is pivotal. Below is a breakdown of the advantages and disadvantages to help guide your decision.


  • Diverse Expertise: A PR agency brings together professionals with varied experiences and skills. You can leverage this wide array of expertise for sophisticated PR campaigns.
  • Extensive Networks: Agencies often have established media relationships, which can lead to better and more frequent coverage for your brand.
  • Scalability: If your PR needs fluctuate, an agency can adjust the level of support, upscaling or downscaling as necessary.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Paying for actual services used, as opposed to a full-time salary and benefits for in-house staff, can be more economical.


  • Less Control: Working with an agency means less direct oversight on day-to-day activities compared to an in-house team.
  • Potential for Misalignment: Communicating your brand's voice and philosophy requires clear dialogue. Misunderstandings might manifest in a message that doesn't precisely reflect your vision.
  • Variable Priority: As an external client, your project might not always be the agency's top priority, especially if they manage multiple clients concurrently.


  • Evaluate your PR needs: frequency, size, and complexity of campaigns.
  • Analyze the costs: compare the potential return on investment from each option.
  • Assess scalability: ask whether you need the flexibility to increase or decrease activity.

By weighing these pros and cons carefully, you can determine whether a PR agency aligns with your strategic objectives and resources.

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The Pros and Cons of an In-House Team

When considering an in-house PR team, it's essential to weigh the benefits and limitations.


  • Control and Focus: You have direct, hands-on control over your PR activities and messaging. Your in-house team is solely dedicated to your brand, ensuring laser focus on aligning communications with your brand's core values.

  • Rapid Response: In the event of a crisis, your in-house team can mobilize quickly due to their intimate knowledge of your company and its operations.

  • Consistent Voice: An in-house team provides a consistent brand voice across all internal communications and public relations campaigns.

  • Cost Savings over Time: Initially, building an in-house team can be expensive, but over time, it can lead to cost savings by avoiding agency fees.


  • Resource Intensive: Building an in-house PR team means significant investment in recruitment and salaries. Plus, you'll need to allocate resources for continuous training and development.

  • Limited Perspectives: While internal teams are deeply embedded with the brand, they may miss out on the fresh ideas and innovative strategies often brought by external agencies that work with a variety of clients.

  • Capacity Issues: Your team may become overwhelmed during high-intensity periods, and unlike agencies with larger teams, scaling quickly isn’t always feasible.

Your decision to develop an in-house PR team should consider these factors to determine the best fit for managing your brand’s image and public relations efforts effectively.

The Bottom Line

When deciding between hiring a PR agency and developing an in-house public relations team, consider the unique needs of your business and the resources at your disposal.

Key Points:

  • PR agencies offer a wealth of experience and established media connections. They bring diverse perspectives that stem from working with varied client portfolios.
  • An in-house team provides dedicated focus on your brand, ensuring alignment with your company's culture and long-term goals.


  • A PR agency can deliver immediate access to a network of media contacts and specialized expertise, often proving beneficial for campaigns that require broad reach in a short time frame.
  • In contrast, an in-house team may afford greater control over your PR strategies and a closer integration with your company's ongoing narrative.
_ Agency Advantages In-House Advantages
Diverse Experience Brand Focus  
Broad Media Networks Cultural Alignment  
Specialization & Expertise Control & Integration  


  • Assess your company’s strategic objectives. If your aim is to achieve rapid visibility across a wide audience, an agency might serve you well.
  • Should your company’s culture and brand message require consistent cultivation, consider the advantages of an in-house team.

Your choice should serve the primary goal of maintaining brand integrity and achieving effective communication with your target audience.

Frequently Asked Questions

In navigating the complex terrain of public relations dynamics in 2024, you'll encounter specific queries on whether to engage with an external PR agency or handle your PR demands in-house. The answers provided here are tailored to give you a factual and clear comparison to inform your decision-making process.

What are the main differences between working with an external PR agency and managing public relations in-house?

With an external PR agency, you leverage a broad scope of expertise and diverse client experience, often bringing creative and varied strategies to the table. Conversely, an in-house team offers closer control over campaigns and messages, fostering a culture deeply integrated with your brand.

Can you outline the benefits of having an in-house public relations team versus outsourcing to a PR agency?

An in-house PR team ensures brand messages are consistently aligned with your company’s ethos and maintain control over the narrative. This setup also promotes rapid response capabilities during crises due to the team's immediate availability and intimate brand knowledge.

What are the potential drawbacks of relying solely on in-house public relations?

An in-house team might have limited resources and experience, potentially leading to a narrower perspective on PR strategies. The lack of variety in challenges and client experiences can sometimes stifle innovation and result in missed opportunities for unique positioning.

How do the roles and responsibilities of in-house public relations professionals compare to those in PR agencies?

In-house PR professionals tend to focus on one brand, gaining deeper insight into its nuances, whereas PR agency staff manage multiple clients, requiring them to pivot strategies across a wider range of industries. Agency professionals are expected to rapidly adapt to different communication challenges and media landscapes.

Which factors should a company consider when deciding between an in-house PR department and collaborating with an agency?

When deciding, consider factors such as budget constraints, the breadth and depth of skill sets required, desired control levels over PR activities, and the ability to maintain a consistent brand voice. The company size and industry-specific experience may also influence this decision.

Looking into 2024, how is the public relations industry expected to evolve, and what impact might this have on the decision to use in-house or agency PR services?

In 2024, the PR industry continues to experience significant influence from AI content generation and data-driven decision-making. This evolution may sway companies to seek agencies with advanced technology and analytics capabilities or necessitate that in-house teams upgrade their toolset to stay competitive.

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