Online marketplaces match firms with freelance pros

In tough economic times, online professional service marketplaces are useful for both PR firms seeking help on a project, or for PR pros searching for some extra work.

In tough economic times, online professional service marketplaces are useful for both PR firms seeking help on a project, or for PR pros searching for some extra work.

Web sites like Elance and guru.com also facilitate various parts of the work-solicitation process, including job posting, hiring, collaboration, and payment. Pros in various industries, including journalism, marketing, Web design, and IT can create profiles describing their skills, and companies can post jobs they need help with.

“If you don't have the capacity to hire someone, it gives access to a complete community of talent,” says Brad Porteus, CMO of Elance.

Matt Batt, president and CEO of Pipeline Media Relations, often uses these services to reduce costs. For example, his firm recently used a freelance marketplace to find help with Web development, he says. Paying on a project basis for services outside his firm's expertise allows it to spend more money on PR talent, which is more important than ever.

“It allows you to be very nimble in this economy,” Batt says.

He adds that Pipeline will use these services in the future to find help with projects that fall outside its main skill set, such as if it needs a professional to write about a niche topic.

Karen Swim, a professional writer and marketer who started the company Words For Hire, gets about 40% of her work from services like guru.com and Elance.

“[These services] have been instrumental in helping me build a foundation,” she says. “It's also helped me connect with people I've formed long-term client relationships with.”

Swim adds that online freelancer marketplaces are also great places for her to find work because they allow her to spend time efficiently when submitting jobs.

Key points:

Online freelance marketplaces allow firms to reduce salary and benefit costs, while securing top talent

Creating profiles can be beneficial for PR pros looking for extra work

These connections made can develop into long-term business relationships

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