The difference between public relations consultants and PR agencies is quite distinct within the profession and anyone looking for such advice should understand the difference.
Public relations consultants mainly refer to those individuals those specialise in PR. They could operate within an agency, or when talking in these terms, operate as freelancers, or experts for hire.
But when talking of consultants, the meaning in this situation is quite clear. You are hiring an individual as a consultant.
The idea is that such a consultant can provide a more in-depth service than possibly an agency team whose skill sets are spread across a wider range and a larger number of people. Consultants usually work on a more one to one basis and will offer advice in an ongoing situation where help maybe required on a fluid basis.
This might mean hiring a PR consultant which has particular expertise in a product launch, or say crisis management. They will work with a team to get the desired results and usually charge a project, or hourly fee.
But the important difference is that the consultant will usually offer a more intense service which is closely aligned to the client’s individuals needs.
And, of course, the consultant will usually be an expert in a particular field. Generalists are common, but consultants tend to focus on various specialist areas of experience and knowledge, and are employed for that reason. It may be to bolster an existing in-house team with a new skill, or add that skill to an external team.
Whatever the reason, the use of public relations consultants is widespread.