How much does a PR campaign really cost?
You might ask how long is a piece of string, but as a man with 15 years’ experience in consultancy and PR let’s let you into a few dark secrets. How much does a PR campaign cost? It actually depends on the PR services you require and the size of your business. Here is a summary of what you can find on the market:
If you want a full-service agency that provides strategic planning, project management and execution, it will provide personnel like an account director, account executive, account planner, project manager, creative director, art director, copywriter, copy editor. They are listed as FTE’s or full-time employees.
Each comes with a salary at a different level and their time spent on your work or campaign will be estimated. The client will cover that cost plus a multiple added on to cover a roughly 20% profit margin and overheads. If your contract is for one year, this cost is divided by 12 to provide what is known as your retainer fee per month.
Any additional costs on your campaign including travel, promotional materials produced, entertainment, hospitality and other direct costs of your campaign will be added on as direct expenses and will be paid for by the client.
In practical terms, retainer fees start at the £500 mark for the smallest agencies and can rise to tens of thousands of pounds for the large agencies with big clients. Direct expenses will be extra. This is paid regardless of coverage achieved, though professional agencies will give clients results. This is not usually an option for SME’s and startups.
PR Distribution Agencies
The next level of cost for PR services is usage of the Press Release distribution agencies. These write and send your press releases to lists of journalists they hold for a fee. Fees can cost from £100 to over a £1000 per press release distributed, depending on the number of journalists you need to reach. Writing each press release professionally can cost between £100 and £200 or more per press release. Distribution services like PR Web and PR newswire will also try to maximise web exposure of your press release.
Realistically however for many startups and SMEs these prices are also beyond budget so the important thing to understand is that there are 2 elements of cost in a PR campaign, the material and the intellectual cost. I’ve outlined the material costs above but by far the most important cost is the Intellectual cost of your campaign which has no cash cost.
A third Option: Reduce the cost of your PR campaign by doing it yourself
The intellectual cost of your campaign is the time you spend creating clarity about your aims and objectives.
You need a good understand of your brand, the value it adds to the customer, and its USPs. You need a good understanding of the user experience of the product, the profile of your customers and the positioning of your brand in the market place.
If you add to this a passion for what you do, a genuine belief in your product and are prepared to engage with the market and media, you can do your own PR if you have the tools at your disposal to engage with the media.
We designed JournoLink to provide this third option after the full-service agency and the Press release distribution networks so small companies with a thorough understanding of their products could launch their own PR campaigns at a cost of under £30 per month.
If you know your brand and its USPs and its positioning in the market all you need is a distribution service for your press releases which reaches over 6000 journalists in print broadcast and online media, a good business calendar to flag up important dates and milestones, a mechanism for responding to journalists request for news and interviews, and coaching in the development of your own PR campaigns.
For those who aren’t comfortable writing their own Press Releases, professional writing services are available on JournoLink at a fraction of the costs outlined above. JournoLink also lifts the web and online profile of your news via SEO and social media marketing, using partners and champions.
Your PR campaign can cost you thousands of pounds a month or tens of pounds a month depending on who you are and your level of confidence in your product. The choice is yours.
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Written by: Tetteh Kofi, Brand Ambassador for JournoLink
Tetteh is a broadcast journalist with credits on the BBC, ITN, LBC and Colourful Radio in news and current affairs. He published newspapers and has run training and crisis management programmes for multinationals and government agencies across Europe.