A new trend – the role of communication manager is fully entrusted to an agency
More and more international and Estonian companies are moving in a direction where the entire work of a communication department is outsourced to an agency. Is this decision justified, and in that case, what is the key to smooth cooperation?
Although, at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, it was thought that many companies would manage communication with the help of in-house staff, the reality has turned out the opposite. Even before the crisis, the trend of outsourcing the entire communication management service had begun to grow. In particular, from an agency that provides a full service – strategic communication, daily media communication, and social media as well as internal communication.
In order to make such a cooperation smooth, one person should still be responsible for marketing and communication in-house. Whether it is a marketing or communication manager, the two areas are so intertwined and should, ideally, support each other, it doesn’t matter how the responsible person is titled. However, it is common that the person responsible for communication in the company is the marketing or brand manager.
Agency vs communication or marketing manager
Outsourcing the entire communication service is especially common in international companies, which very often connect the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian markets and outsource all project management and daily communication from one agency.
For years, Coca-Cola and McDonalds, for example, have been doing the same, outsourcing all communication management. According to Nele Normak, Coca-Cola’s Head of Public Relations in the Baltics, this is both cost-effective and significantly more convenient for the person in charge. “A few years ago we made the strategic decision to consolidate marketing, PR, and government communication under one single agency.
Different brands need a diverse range of communication to reach their target groups and get the best results. The use of an agency adds freshness, and offers innovative approaches and diverse perspectives,” explained Normak.
A similar example is Citycon, where the marketing team consists of marketing and communication manager Helina Leif, and the coordinator of the shopping centers. The latter mainly dealing with internal communication. Their communication service is outsourced entirely to META Advisory.
“Other Nordic countries with a number of Citycon shopping centers have their own communication managers. Similarly to Denmark, Citycon has only two centers in Estonia (very few compared to Norway, where there are 24 centers – H.L.), whose communication needs and volumes do not require the hiring of a separate specialist. However, I feel that since, in Estonia, my area of responsibility is both marketing and communication, the use of a PR agency is absolutely essential during the high season. Firstly, it is cost-effective; and secondly, I appreciate the agency’s support, particularly in crisis communication issues and media relations. When publishing data or news, it is often good to have an impartial partner who has no connection to Citycon. That helps to see the bigger picture and to provide better comments, which also have a greater impact on the customer, who does not know the background of the center’s decisions,” Leif explained.
Which is more cost-efficient?
Many are afraid to hire an agency fearing it would be very expensive. In practice, however, hiring an agency is sometimes more cost-efficient than hiring one high-level communication professional. Especially because obtaining services from the agency provides access to specialists of several different areas, who will help to grow both the company’s reputation and the sale of your product or service. Today, a modern communication agency offers services to help build product and service brands, to plan marketing based on customer segments, and to build a company’s reputation and develop it from month to month, as well as managing the company’s relationship with the public, media and local community.
Especially in times of crisis the agency can be of great help, as there are experts who have managed the crisis communication of several companies and gained valuable experience. Thanks to this, it is possible for a company to feel more secure every day.
The 2020 labor market survey done by CVKeskus.ee, the largest employment portal in Estonia, and the Salary Information Agency, revealed that the median gross salary in Estonia for a marketing and communication specialist is 1,400 euros and 1,850 euros for a top specialist. At the same time, it is true that an experienced communication manager is no longer attracted to such a fee. However, it is possible to get a monthly contract from the agency for the same amount of money, which can cover the basic needs of a smaller company.