NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- No matter what your business does or who you're trying to reach, any company can benefit from a tailored corporate voice and good press. The public relations professionals who provide those messages can either be a permanent part of your team or part of an external firm, and knowing which approach is best for your company can be difficult. If your small business is drowning in social media responsibilities or in need of some positive attention, the only real question is exactly what kind of PR support you need. Our experts weigh in on whether an in-house PR professional or an external firm offers the most bang for your business. What are the benefits to hiring someone to handle PR in-house? Companies can benefit from the institutional knowledge, quick response time and holistic business understanding that an internal PR resource can bring, says Anna Ruth Williams, founder and CEO of AR|PR, an Atlanta-based public relations firm servicing technology and startup companies. "Nothing can replace an in-house staff person that works every day in the office and constantly feels the heartbeat of the organization," Williams says. With a member of your team devoted solely to PR, you'll never have to question the kind of message you're getting, says Sabina Gault, CEO and founder of Konnect PR, a midsize PR firm servicing the baby and children and food and beverage industries. "The real benefit is that you're calling the shots -- you have a person focused entirely on your company, and these people are entrenched in your brand," Gault says. "They live and breathe your colors, your flavors, what you're launching, when you're launching it, and they can answer any question about your brand accurately in a heartbeat." Having a full-time staff member accountable for all your PR efforts is something an agency simply can't give you, Gault says. "At an agency, people change. They get shifted to different accounts. If you have someone working full time at your office you can go up to them and say, 'I wanted this to happen by this date. Why is it not happening?' There's just more communication, more contact," Gault says.
What's to be gained by using an external PR firm? Unfortunately, in-house PR professionals are frequently overworked and burned out, Williams says. Often, internal staffers are obligated to participate in company administrative processes and can get "brain fatigue" from dealing with the same challenges and information day in and day out, she explains.
Some companies have both an in-house PR rep and work with an outside firm. What's the advantage there? Many larger companies have an in-house PR specialist who manages the PR vendor, Williams says.