Every company wants to save money. However, no company ever grew from cutting its public relations efforts. There are smarter ways to save.
Here are some insider ideas and expert insights from the PR pros:
1. Prepay quarterly or annually.
Your PR firm may offer a prepayment discount. At our PR firm, we offer a discount ranging from 3 percent to 10 percent for clients who prepay quarterly and annually for their public relations campaigns. You can’t make that kind of return from the bank nor from many other investments.
2. Take advantage of referrals.
When you refer a new client to your PR firm, your PR team will appreciate you and see extra value in your business relationship. Perhaps they’ll encourage your referrals with more services or even referral credit. At our PR firm, we credit clients’ accounts a percentage of the collected receivables for the lifetime of the new business relationship as a thank-you for an introductory meeting.
3. Bundle services.
The more services you receive from your PR firm, the more scalable your PR investment. You should see a financial benefit from the volume. A firm that specializes in PR should offer comprehensive PR solutions and packages. Take advantage of the synergy and bundled pricing plans.
4. Sign a long-term agreement.
Show your commitment to the PR firm by signing a multi-year agreement that gives the firm financial stability and offers you more favorable pricing.
5. Shift duties away from staff.
Is your internal staff doing things that a PR firm can do for less? Traditional employment entails significant costs, including hidden overhead costs and liabilities. It might be more expensive than you realize to employ someone internally at your company. A PR firm will often give you more brainpower, experts, contacts, bandwidth, opportunities and efficiency as well as save you money over employing someone full time.
6. Share service bureaus.
Many corporations buy media monitoring, clipping and measurement from service bureaus. However, their PR firms have these same resources – often more of them and often for less because of the volume pricing already built in to their overhead and price.
7. Cancel duplicate PR software or media database services.
Again, why should both the client and the agency pay for expensive PR software? That’s a waste of resources.
8. Use your PR firm’s press release wire service.
PR firms often buy news release wire services for 75 percent less than the prices their clients pay, based on the firm’s clout and volume.
9. Remember, crisis management is really expensive.
When a crisis arises, you should be prepared. Studies by the Federal Emergency Management Agency show that every dollar you spend on crisis planning saves $7 during an actual crisis. You can spend far less money and precious time searching for the right firm now than you can during a critical moment.
10. Measure what works, cut what doesn’t.
PR measurement is tricky, and there’s no silver bullet. Find a way to measure. Consider the findings, tweak the strategy and eventually cut the fat that repeatedly doesn’t perform. Advertising industry consultant Tony Mikes said, "PR is not always visible and not overnight, but it helps subtly and significantly over time.”
While saving money is important, always allow your strategic partners to make a reasonable profit. You need them to stay in business. In order for them to stay in business, they need to be able to pay their employees well and build their cash reserves. That’s the definition of a partnership.
11. Find out what your peer companies are paying.
For companies with revenues exceeding $50 million, we have industry-specific research detailing what other companies are spending on PR. Armed with that information, you have a powerful card to play at the negotiating table.
Overall, we’ve found that most large corporations are investing between 0.1 and 1 percent of their annual revenue on PR – depending on the industry and the level of competition. And smaller companies are investing a much larger percent, up to 10 percent of their revenue on PR, especially startups and companies that are well-funded. The larger the company, the less percentage of revenue it spends on PR. However, don’t let that mislead you. Overall, the larger the company, the more dollars it spends on PR. The most sophisticated companies know the power of PR.
12. Be mindful that the best PR results come over time.
Remember: The best public relations results come from years of proactive and strategic PR. Every year, our clients enjoy more and more ROI for their PR investments. Therefore, we highly recommend that companies invest in PR long term.
Many companies desire 30- to 90-day PR projects, however, you don’t build a brand overnight. PR blips and bumps are just that. As Warren Buffett says, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation.”
13. Partner with a PR firm that knows you.
Finding the best PR firm takes time. And, whether you’re in a crisis or not, a PR firm that can react immediately is always a plus. There’s value in retaining a PR firm that knows your company and effectively manages your PR. Don’t waste time and opportunity negotiating project agreements.
14. Cut advertising.
Research shows that marketing works best when PR creates a brand and advertising supports it. Why cut PR when it is more cost-effective than advertising? With PR, consumers perceive you as a thought-leader – and they often ignore advertisements. If you need to cut, consider cutting advertising first.
If you’ve tried all these tips and you still feel that you’re drastically overpaying for the value you’re receiving, it may be time to consider re-evaluating that PR partnership. If, after careful consideration and going through all the appropriate steps before making such an important decision, you conclude that it’s time to “see other people,” Axia Public Relations offers a helpful e-book, How to Fire Your PR Firm, to help you move on and find the PR partner that will elevate your brand to new heights.