Haris Ahmed – Chicago | The Trouble with In-House PR: Part 2

Haris Ahmed Chicago: When Disagreement Doesn’t Equate to Disorder

Haris Ahmed, from Chicago, is the founder and CEO of Pragmatium Consulting Group, Inc., a management consulting company that engages in public relations, market research, and process improvement. This article continues where the first part left off about the hidden disadvantages of maintaining in-house PR departments. Today, he discusses the dynamics in the relationships between C-level executives and in-house PR staff. He discovered that many organizations that have problems with their messaging actually have a larger problem with hierarchical structures.

In a previous blog, we discussed how in-house PR departments fail to deliver market-centric press releases. We tackled the problem of maintaining the balance between an organization’s identity and reaching as many people as possible. In more than 30 years of doing PR consulting with Pragmatium, I think much of the blame should go to high-level executives; those who hold the pens that sign the cheques.

Full disclosure: I was a PR professional in one of the largest tech companies in the Midwest before starting and leading Pragmatium. I know where I’m coming from in terms of experiencing pressure from all sides, and how it feels when high-level executives seek to influence the creative process.

When I was working on a PR project as an in-house practitioner, our creative team meetings were often hotly-contested debates that took hours to finish. And when I was just about to turn in my work, someone with a bigger desk suddenly asked for a revision based on a previous version of the document I was already creating. Overall, the creative process for in-house PR staff is long and distracting, and the end results are not always of good quality.

In addition, many companies treat in-house PR departments as an extension of their executives’ egos. Their suggestions are often dismissed and shot down as being impractical or not consistent with company values. When I started doing PR consultancy, I met first with internal PR departments while excluding the executives, compared my work with theirs, and presented my ideas to management. What’s funny is that executives took my work at face value. When I told them that my work was just the same as their internal PR’s, their faces went livid. It turns out that executives take external consultants more seriously, compared to internal PR departments. Sometimes, I get the feeling that we were hired as a back-up for the internal team.

Indeed, in many cases, the PR team must be insulated from decision-makers to be able to come up with content that perfectly captures the ideas that these same decision-makers want to convey. While this might seem like a paradox at first, executives and management are often guilty of trying to sneak in their own personal twist into the story to make themselves look good. In contrast, external PR teams do not answer to anyone and are able to come up with copy that represents the client’s interests better.

To learn more about the benefits of hiring a consultant for PR, keep browsing this site. Haris Ahmed of Chicago would also like to invite you to visit the Pragmatium Consulting Group web site to know more about their services.



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