When you hear the term “staff augmentation” what do you think? Years ago, when I heard this term I assumed it was referring to temp positions for entry-level work. In many instances, that’s still true. What I’ve come to learn throughout my career as a public relations consultant, is that often I provide staff augmentation to my clients whether we identify it as such or not. For some, I carry a business card and use an email address that makes me appear as a member of their full-time staff, even though I’m working remotely and serving other clients as well. I like feeling like I’m part of the team, and I’ve learned early on that there is no “byline” in public relations, so this arrangement suits me well. It also allows me to experience various different careers simultaneously which is a pretty unique experience! All that said, I wanted to share some of the main reasons why staff augmentation for public relations and marketing can be a huge benefit to businesses of all sizes and industries. If you’re looking to ramp up this portion of your own business, here’s what you need to know about staff augmentation and how it works.
Affordable, Senior-Level Experience
Often when small businesses are ready to hire an in-house professional to handle their strategic communications, public relations, or marketing needs the budget for salary can be modest to start. If the salary is at an entry-level, the position is likely to attract entry-level talent. Many businesses forget to consider that a temporary, or even long-term solution may be to look at an experienced contractor or consultant who can meet these needs at a senior-level but for the cost of an entry-level, in-house employee. As a public relations and strategic communications consultant, I provide staff augmentation for many different businesses where I serve as the PR arm of their business at whatever level is needed. Small businesses just getting started may only require 10-15 hours per month of services to fully accomplish their goals, and as they grow, so can the role of the consultant.
The most important benefit of staff augmentation to consider is that this often doesn’t require the business to pay payroll taxes or benefits as they would need to for a full-time hire. I provide my own office space, technology, health benefits, and accounting. For the businesses I serve, I am part of their overall marketing budget – an expense just like paying for graphic design, website hosting, or promotional print products.
Not only can an outside consultant or contractor provide a business with senior-level experience for an entry-level price, but they also bring a fresh perspective that is unique from staff who work intimately within the business day-in and day-out. As a consultant, I work with many different businesses that serve many different markets. This allows me to keep a pulse on the latest trends and strategies which prove to be effective for one client, and may also help another. I’m constantly learning and trying new things, and look for ways to take what I’ve learned and apply it to successful strategies across the board. Also, this provides businesses with an outside perspective, much like how their own target audience may see them. When you’re deep into running your own business, it can be hard to take that step back and see things from an outside perspective. Through staff augmentation, a consultant or contractor can help provide this.
Staff augmentation also provides extremely flexible terms and is not often available when hiring traditional, full-time staff. For example, you can choose to hire a consultant or contractor on a month-to-month basis, or until a certain goal is accomplished. You can also hire them for so many hours per month, or simply on an hourly basis which can change each month. This gives you, as the business owner, infinite flexibility to adjust your budget and expectations as often as needed. My word of caution here is to not change things too frequently, however, as this can disrupt your progress. It’s best to adjust your marketing and public relations strategy no more frequently than quarter-by-quarter, but to plan out even further than that is wise.
Hire and Train Staff
One of the lesser considered benefits of staff augmentation is that a senior-level consultant can help you hire, interview, and train someone who will ultimately take over the role of your in-house marketing/PR professional. That’s right, I have helped businesses replace me. It’s quite fulfilling! I enjoy helping take businesses as far as I can, and when I hear that their desire is to grow an in-person team to handle their strategic communications tasks, I know that I can add great value here. I help write a proper job description, distribute that description to the right markets, and then filter through applicants to find the cream that rises to the top. Once a hire is made, I can help train that person to bring them up to speed and even bring them to a higher level than when they began. Yes, I do then part ways with that business when you’re ready to go it alone. But more often than not, I’m still called up for expert help. Should the business run into a unique issue, or wish to advance its strategy to the next level, I’m always available to step back into whatever role makes sense.
Have you had experience with staff augmentation for any part of your business? What has worked and what has not? Join in the conversation by sharing your example below.