By Jeanne C. Zepp

Across my career, I have encountered many companies who question the value of PR and marketing agencies. They view PR as nothing more than issuing press releases announcing new products, personnel and clients. They believe that such a basic task is best handled in-house by a recent college graduate relying on a standard wire service. To me, this shortsighted view fails to take into account what PR is and the value it adds to your business.

A press release is but one of many PR tools, and issuing press releases is but one of many professional services that a PR agency can offer a company. All too often in-house press releases are formulaic documents, updating canned messaging by filling in the blanks and inserting platitude-rich quotes that convey nothing substantive about a firm or its expertise. It is no wonder that businesses relying on this approach to PR gain no market advantage. Their press releases are devoid of newsworthy content, only reach predictable media outlets and ultimately attain the dubious status of just being one more electronic pickup.

PR firms not only use PR tools optimally, but also in concert with other PR techniques to assure reach. More important, an agency offers its clients new ways of thinking, sound judgment and immediate access to influential audiences. In short, an agency opens the door to a true PR strategy based on a well-conceived PR plan. This strategy envisions working in concert with a client’s executives and staff. After all, who knows the products and services better?

Fresh ideas yield product launches, for example, that are exciting and create buzz among analysts and journalists. Professional, unbiased analysis of messaging translates to target audiences that understand your products and services and what differentiates them from would-be competitors. Established relationships with key influencers translate to direct and immediate lines of communication with audiences that have the power to transition your business from “also ran” to “frontrunner.” Seasoned professionals using a full complement of PR tools prevent single-note efforts that fail to promote your business.

Expending minimal effort with the expectation of maximal results is a prescription that does not work well in any area of life or business. All too often, a minimalistic, in-house approach actually leads to an unexpected result: giving the advantage to competitors. For real results, it is vital to engage PR specialists with the background, experience and vision to plan and implement a well-rounded program reflective of the unique value proposition your company brings to the marketplace.