Should cleantech companies do their communications in-house or work with an agency?

Fear not. Just because I work for a cleantech communications agency doesn’t mean I won’t tell you about the advantages of doing your communications in-house. In this blog, we look at both possibilities and also propose an entirely new model for doing your communications.

Beyond budgetary considerations, what are you set to gain from each option? We hope this post helps you assess what works best for your company.

Doing your communications in-house

When doing your communications in-house, in an ideal scenario your communications team is close at hand and at your disposal all day. They know your company, technology and target market inside out. They have a strong rapport with the rest of the team, from the engineers to the project managers to the senior leadership. Their knowledge becomes your company’s knowledge informing best communications practise and laying the foundations for growth.

Three questions to ask yourself:

What communications skills does my company need now and in the next 1-2 years?

Take the time to do the strategic groundwork necessary and avoid investing resources in redundant activities. Then assemble a team of experts to deliver excellence in the areas that will support your business and commercial goals.

How many people do I need to deliver results?

Often a small team of dedicated and passionate individuals can deliver incredible results. If the number of people needed exceeds your budget, working with an agency might be the better option.

What tools and other resources does my team need?

We wrote a blog about maximising your PR activity on a budget which may be a good starting point for you. Starting out without expensive software is absolutely possible. But down the line it may be more efficient to automate repetitive, time-consuming processes.

Working with a communications agency

When working with a communications agency, in an ideal scenario your communications team unites a wide range of skills, has an incomparable media and journalist network and years of collective experience of working with companies like yours. They use comprehensive tools to deliver streamlined campaigns. They’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly and can support you through growing pains and even full-blown company crises with assurance.

Three questions to ask yourself:

Does the agency have in-depth knowledge of my sector and is it capable of understanding and communicating my complex technology and range of applications cases?

One size does not fit all. How you communicate effectively varies from industry to industry, from country to country and from publication to publication. Ensure your prospective agency can engage with you on the level you need.

Does the agency want to engage in strategic groundwork?

Regard it as a big red warning sign if an agency suggests a uniform package of activities without an individualised strategy.

Is the agency creative, proactive and capable of pushing back?

Working with a group of yes-people only gets you so far. To succeed you need to work with experts who support your vision and also challenge your thinking.

Rethinking the agency model

Assembling a great team is one of your most important tasks. In fact, it’s so critical for the success of your company that it’s one of the main factors determining whether investors will engage with you or not. So it pays to explore different options.

The biggest mistake one can make is not to work with communications experts at all, or to wait until investment has been secured. To break through that Catch-22 we developed the Life Size Membership. It’s designed for early-stage cleantech companies that have significant potential, but whose limited resources would normally prevent them from engaging with a high-profile agency or hiring a team of senior experts.

Within the membership, we offer on-going strategic communications support, but without the commitment of a contractual monthly retainer. It’s a partnership, where we act as a coach providing you with the guidance needed to succeed on your own. Members have access to individual consultations and can also participate in masterclasses and supportive community events.

We hope that asking yourself the six questions above and balancing the answers against your budget, will give you a clear indication as to what works best for you.

To help you choose we’re happy to offer a free consultation to talk through your needs and challenges.

If budget is a constraint, but you still want to benefit from powerful, expert communications, explore the Life Size Membership.

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