Strategic communications counsel can make the difference between a healthy growing business vs. losing customers, a proud reputation vs. a lousy one, or a leading industry position vs. being overshadowed by your competition. Many companies, large and small, invest in in-house PR and marketing teams that do exceptional work, but there are times and occasions when external strategic communications counsel is indispensable.

Certainly, in moments of crisis, bad press or reputational issues, an outside PR expert can help you navigate tricky waters. But don’t wait until you’re trouble. If you find yourself in any of these situations, consider getting the objectivity, brainpower and extra hands that come with hiring an external agency.

  1. Your organization is changing. Whether you are transitioning to new leadership, introducing new products or services, or entering a new market, insight from internal and external sources can help assess existing perceptions and develop strategies to shift those perceptions. A good agency won’t be influenced by internal biases about what’s new or special, but will be more critical to ensure your presence and positioning truly stands out. They can evaluate the marketability of new products, help develop differentiation so you can command a premium, and offer approaches that fully take into account the risks and the opportunities that come with change.
  2. Your coworkers and customers don’t really understand your brand. Maybe there is another business in your industry with a similar approach or even a similar name, or maybe your competitors are all vying for the same customers using the same messages. Since consumers often do not have intimate knowledge of which company, cause or product is better, they choose to do business with the one whose name is simply top-of-mind. If you find yourself facing brand confusion, internally or externally, outside strategic communications counsel can give you the objectivity needed to make sure you really stand out from your competition with a dominant, differentiated voice.
  3. You have no idea what’s working and what’s not. If you suddenly experience an increase in new business opportunities, website traffic or phone calls, do you know what caused it? Do you find your team is spending tons of time in one area, but you’re seeing inconsistent results at best? If you feel like you’re marketing blind, outside communications counsel can provide the insight, analytics and strategic thinking to help streamline or shift your efforts toward the tactics and approaches that produce direct business impact. Importantly, external advisors will more easily be able to point out areas for improvement and missed opportunities – something that can be a challenge for an internal employee to both identify and to speak up about.
  4. You have no plan or can’t agree on a plan. A smart communications plan tied directly to business goals should not be optional. If you don’t have one, or you can’t get alignment on one, chances are you marketing blind and finding it hard to justify spend. An agency can work with you to define your goals, pinpoint thought leaders and spokespeople, and develop strategies and tactics to most effectively and efficiently reach those goals. Importantly, as outsiders, the agency team can truly adapt a customer’s mindset to help develop messages and content that are customer-centric, not brand-focused. They can help you see clearly, dissect challenges, capitalize on opportunities and bring your brand narrative to life. 
    A PR agency can help you see clearly, dissect challenges and bring your brand narrative to life.Click To Tweet
  5. You are overwhelmed and your brain is tired! It is a fact of business today that many of our days are monopolized by meetings and increasing demands. A lack of focused time and a tried brain turns into lost productivity and a loss in creative power. Even the smartest, most effective internal PR and communications teams simply need extra brainpower or an extra set of hands sometimes. By working with an agency, you gain its collective wisdom. An established agency’s team has faced a diverse range of scenarios and challenges. They’ve tested and experimented with a variety of tactics and channels, and they come with a diverse range of specialized knowledge that can drive more creative thinking.

Whether it’s candid advice, an unbiased perspective, creative brainstorming or access to a larger network, external strategic communications counsel provides benefits you just can’t get internally. Instead of trying to do it all yourself, go ahead and lean on objective experts to guide your strategy, address your needs, or help you think big or home in – on ideas, branding, market opportunities, messaging, voice, thought leadership strategy or overall communications approach.

Strategy Workshops with Stern Strategy Group

For more than 15 years, Jen Zottola has helped bring clients’ stories to life – through media opportunities, digital and marketing content, executive presentations, employee communications and more. Fusing creativity with strategy, she crafts compelling, award-winning copy proven to reach and resonate with the right audiences in the most impactful ways. As editorial director, Jen collaborates with clients and account teams to provide counsel on messaging and voice, as well as writing and editing support. Her creativity isn’t reserved only for writing; Jen also gets a kick out of party- and event planning.