Should you hire a local PR agency?

Posted by Sara Hawthorn

As a PR agency with bases in two major UK cities the topic of working with a local PR agency has come up more than once and whilst you might think we’d be biased on the answer to this question, we know from experience that it’s not quite as clear cut an answer as you might think. 

 

What do we mean by local PR?

With an HQ in a county as big as Yorkshire, local can be a relative term. To us, if we can reach you in under an hour it’s local. But in places like Manchester, or Glasgow, where our other office is located, clients may be 10 minutes away, across the road or even in the same building. Another way to look at local PR is whether that agency is active within your local business community. Do they know the challenges and opportunities within the area – are they engaged with local business networks?

 

Location, location, location

Our world suddenly became much smaller in March this year and deep in our working from home bubbles we’ve realised that being face-to-face isn’t as necessary as we once thought. We’ve all adapted to Zoom meetings, online press briefings, virtual conferences and social networking. Even PR pitches and client onboarding is happening entirely virtually, right now. It’s shown many of us that location isn’t everything when making decisions about suppliers. The right support may be 2 miles or 200 miles away – our most distant client is 266 miles away from our head office and 60 from our Glasgow base. 

As we emerge from this period many of us are reconsidering long commutes, the miles spent travelling to see customers as part of the sales process, and our work life balances. As far as choosing a PR agency goes service, rather than locale is key.

 

Consider whether local or specialist is right for your business

Because we work in niche sectors our client acquisition is driven by our sector knowledge rather than our office locations. But there are times when a PR agency which knows its local onions might be the right choice for you. If your main client base is located within a 20 mile radius aimed squarely at business owners in say West Yorkshire then of course there are benefits to hiring a local boutique PR agency with strong connections to the geographic area and to the local media. 

For those with more of a trade PR focus, or who work in specialist industries, sector knowledge is often more important than geographical location. If your target audience is engineers in the renewable energy space then a PR agency who knows how to reach and speak to that audience will be more effective for your business. That agency may be local or it may be at the other end of the country. 

 

Long-distance can be worth the risk

The last couple of months have shown how quickly we can adapt and how much of our time is consumed by commuting, meetings and other travel; face-to-face is still valuable but not a dealbreaker. Great work can be achieved without the need for someone to be close by, this brings multiple environmental benefits – something important to us as an agency.  For those needing more specific and niche PR support, it opens up the search field and removes barriers to accessing the right PR agency to suit your needs and help guide and grow your business.