Technology, engineering and electronics companies have long debated the pros and cons of keeping PR and communications in house but with the rise of content marketing and social media, deciding on what is best for your business is harder than ever.

For technology SMEs, keeping it in house had obvious advantages. The majority of PR agencies do not have the technical expertise or specialist product knowledge to act on their behalf. Engineering and electronics companies do not, as a rule, run the seasonal campaigns or promotions of the B2C, retail and service industries, rather requiring consistent support producing whitepapers, product information and a regular presence in the industry press. Many technology companies used part-timers or regular freelancers for this but recent developments in the field of marketing and public relations have meant that more and more are seeking out expert agency support.

The cost of keeping it in house has risen dramatically as the person spec evolves. Finding a highly literate, commercially aware, employee with an ability to understand and communicate technical information was always difficult but now that employee needs an ability to build much bigger networks and maintain many relationships over a vast range of media, sustaining engagement over time. As well as a talent for technical writing, they need to produce visual material and the kind of enticing content that will earn attention. Training an in house team to effectively use social media, setting up a social media policy and purchasing and training staff to use the array of relevant creative and monitoring software can be expensive. Understanding how to report on the ROI of a modern, cross media campaign may be beyond the capabilities of many. This is all too big an ask for an in house PR and communications team in all but the largest technology or electronics firms.

Is a specialist technology PR agency the answer?

A good technology PR, and digital pr agency will understand the sector and get to know your products. An established agency will have a wealth of expertise in electronics, technology and engineering gleaned from working within the engineering and electronics industry. This kind of expertise is worth its weight in gold. A full service technology PR and communications agency has a pool of creatives to draw on; writers, designers, marketers, SEO experts, social media experts and many more industry contacts and networks than an in house set up.

Even with the reduction in HR costs by switching from in house to an agency, expense is the main issue for technology SMEs but the agency is increasingly the most efficient use of resources. Money saved by cutting the advertising budget for traditional media and print advertising can be re-allocated to modern PR activity and digital marketing.

These developments are incredibly disruptive for technology SMEs and CEOs will no doubt continue to agonize over the decision. What do you think?