PR cost. It’s one of the primary factors driving decisions when outsourcing your PR needs, but how much should you budget? And how do you know if you’re getting a good deal for your money?

There are lots of different factors that can influence cost, and it’s important to make sure you’re not compromising on those that are key to reaching your aims and objectives.  

Deciding on the right path to PR

PR cost can vary widely, from freelancers to agencies to inhouse support, and there are different benefits to each solution. You can use our guide for inhouse vs outsourcing to decide which one might be right for you.  

If you’ve decided to outsource, you should start by setting a budget. This will help to ensure your PR cost is inline with what you can afford to spend.

Negotiating your PR budget depends on:

  • Term – how committed are you to your campaign? Are you looking for a one-off project to ‘test the waters’ or a longer term campaign to see sustained, tangible results?

  • Impact – what are you looking to achieve? Who are you looking to reach?

  • Preparation – you and the consultancy – do you have any resources or research that can inform the PR campaign?

  • Reach – how far do you want to reach? Do you want to target a specific region or industry? Or perhaps your focus is nationwide, or even worldwide?

  • Results – how do you define success? How will you measure what’s working and what’s not?

  • Back up – what recourse do you have if it goes wrong? Is there anything protecting your budget if things don’t quite go to plan/the campaign doesn’t meet your expectations?
person calculating cost with a calculator

Term – how long are you prepared to commit to your campaign?

PR cost can be heavily influenced by the term of a campaign. One-off projects can often be more expensive, as a lot of research will go into creating the first piece of content. For longer-term projects, that initial research will create momentum and carry legacy into future pieces of content and media approaches, so the cost is spread and the work becomes more cost-effective.

At it’s core, PR is about creating sustained relations with key stakeholders/audiences for your business. It’s not about a ‘one hit wonder’. Often, people need to see something three times before they remember it – your brand name is the same. You will generally see more tangible results from a longer-term campaign.

The best deals when it comes to campaign terms work both ways – for the PR consultant and the client. PR becomes more cost-effective if you commit to a six month project vs a one-off piece of content, for example.

Impact – what are you looking to achieve?

Aligning your ambitions with your budget is key – you won’t get a ‘top of the range Tesla’ for the price of a ‘Little Tike’.

Think about the impact you want to make against your objectives. It may not be about achieving everything at once. Start by prioritising your objectives to focus your PR cost and budget.

Preparation – you and the consultancy

Do you have the foundations in place to ‘hit the ground running’ with your public relations campaign? Have you got measurable objectives, detailed audience personas, key messaging and compelling content themes ready?

How about the consultancy? How well do they know and understand you? Do they know your sector and have case studies to showcase how it’s worked well in the past? Do their insights into your area agree with your own or are they opening your eyes to see things differently? 

Preparation is key to honing PR cost. The more prepared you are, the quicker you’ll be able to get your campaign up and running, and the less investment time you’ll need to spend getting your PR agency up to speed.

Reach – how far do you want to reach?

Is it about a small, targeted regional or industry-led campaign? Or is it about hitting the nationals – or even the internationals?

The farther you’re looking to reach, generally the larger the PR cost. However, depending on your objectives, a further reach doesn’t necessarily yield better results. Consider how you can hone your audience to get the right message in front of the right people – rather than a generic message in front of the ‘masses’.

Results – how do you define success?

Your objectives will determine the scope of your PR activity – and therefore your PR cost. To get value for your budget, make sure you’re crystal clear in what you’re expecting from the outset.

Having measurable objectives in place will allow you to demonstrate what ‘success’ looks like – and it gives you a clear benchmark to evaluate the success of any activity against.

Back up – what recourse do you have if it goes wrong?

It’s important to have a ‘back up plan’ – your budget is hard earned.

Are they guaranteeing results? What assurance do you have that you’ll get the deliverables you’re anticipating?

Your reputation is fragile – it determines the success of your business. PR’s role is to build that reputation – but it’s important to consider asking about the consultant’s or agency’s professional indemnity to ensure any reputational damage is covered.

Also, are they a member of a trade body such as the CIPR that you could consult with?

If anything were to happen to a key member of their team, could another take their place?

Image of a blank white price tag against a black background

Avoiding a PR cost pitfall

PR cost is tricky to navigate, and it’s important to consider all of the different factors influencing it. Reducing cost will often compromise quality – so take the time to make sure your ‘deal’ has everything you need in it using the above factors/questions.

If you’d like a confidential ‘sense check’ of your PR pricing – with absolutely no obligation – get in touch by filling out the form below.

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