One of the most common questions potential clients of our public relations firm ask when they call us is, “How much does public relations cost?” This is a difficult question to answer, and we’ll do our best to explain some PR investment guidelines.
Investing in professional public relations is a lot like buying a new car. With so many different models and options available, the costs vary considerably. A four-door Chevrolet sedan costs less than a similar Mercedes, and even the price of the Chevrolet can almost double when you add leather seats, a premium stereo, alloy wheels, power windows, power door locks, GPS, a DVD player, a rear-view camera, a sunroof, seat warmers, hybrid capabilities and other optional upgrades.
When basic transportation is available for around $10,000, why do so many people buy loaded luxury sedans costing so much more? And why has a Ford pickup been the best-selling “car” in America for years?
It’s because most people understand that getting what you want – and need – when you buy will save you from regrets later. You can add speed control to a used car, but it’s usually more expensive and not as good as what you could have gotten from the factory.
You use your car to drive to work, the grocery store, soccer practice, the golf course, the mall, the airport, romantic dinners and perhaps to entertain clients. You want to ensure the car you buy will be reliable, comfortable and enjoyable for as long as you own it. You’ll also want a car that best represents your image in business and the community.
The same things should be true of your public relations firm. You rely on your PR counsel to develop your brand and help grow your company. You need to be comfortable with the firm’s people and practices, and you should expect to enjoy the fruits of their efforts – more customers, more investors, better employees, a strong brand and a great reputation.
Unfortunately, many companies focus only on the price of public relations, ignoring the true cost of choosing the wrong PR firm: poor results, a diluted brand, a tarnished reputation and a long-term contract designed to keep you from “trading-in” a firm that isn’t helping you reach your goals.
Keeping with the car analogy, let’s list some options that can affect the price of PR:
- Media relations – earning positive news coverage for your company, its products, services, leaders, experts, opinions and ideas
- Social media – managing your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media programs
- Spokesperson training – teaching you how to ace interviews and stay on message
- Crisis communications management – developing a crisis plan and protecting your company and its reputation during a crisis
- Internet reputation management – cleaning up negative reviews and websites from search engine results
- Company naming and branding – putting together the right image for your business
- Thought leadership – helping your company’s leaders become known as industry visionaries
- Public speaking engagements – spreading your brand message by booking your company’s leaders as speakers
- Award entry and recognition – earning you and your company the attention you deserve
- Special projects and misc. – let’s get it done
As you can see, there are several options available. When a client asks us to provide a price for our services, the first thing we do is determine which options the client wants – and also what might be needed instead – and how important those options are to the company.
Just as a family with four kids is going to need a minivan, SUV or a larger car, a company with many office locations and divisions is likely to need more services – or at least more in-depth services – to handle the large operations. An individual or a couple might be happy with a 2-seater, but whether that’s a Smart car or a Ferrari is going to depend on their unique needs and preferences. How fast – and how far – you want your company to grow will determine how much work a public relations firm will have to do for you.
Developing and implementing a media relations campaign for a new product, service or project for a company that doesn’t desire or require other services will cost less than a comprehensive public relations service to develop your company’s brand nationwide, including national media relations, social media management, executive training, developing a crisis PR plan, scheduling you and your leadership for speaking engagements, positioning you as a go-to expert on your industry and earning your company the awards and recognition it deserves.
Several PR firms work on an hourly-fee basis, charging you $100 to $300 for every hour they work on your behalf, and most require a retainer. Their business models are similar to a taxi with which you have to sign a year-long contract. As long as you don’t want to go far, it might be cheaper than buying a car. But if you plan to drive every day and your goal is to really get somewhere, a fee-basis firm can cost you a fortune. If you don’t use them as much as you thought you would, you’ll lose the unused portions of the retainer.
Axia doesn’t require a retainer, nor do we charge hourly fees beyond such. First, we implement a four-month trial period based on an agreed-upon investment, which is either payable upfront with a prepayment discount or payable monthly. In the four months, we want you to have a chance to see what we can do for you and your company and get to know us and our unique approach to PR. After that, most companies see the benefits of Axia and become clients for life. Monthly public relations campaigns with our PR firm start at $5,000 for local and single audience PR solutions, and may exceed $30,000 for far-reaching national programs.
Do-it-Yourself Public Relations
Public relations isn’t rocket science. There are plenty of books, articles and resources to help you do your own PR online or through other resources. Axia recently introduced a series of free e-books designed to teach you everything our experts know about the ethical practice of public relations. We’ve also redesigned our newsletter, Axia’s 60 Second Impact, to do the same thing in snippets that take less than a minute to read.
While PR isn’t magic, it is hard work and requires the attention of a dedicated, seasoned, intelligent professional. Don’t be fooled by companies and websites that promise to make it cheap. Some of them promise to deliver hundreds of press releases for a fraction of the cost of a professional PR firm. The truth is, most of those news releases are delivered to low-traffic websites that lack credibility and no one will ever see them. The rest will show up in the already overloaded inboxes of editors and reporters who will never read them, or who have opted out of their poorly written, spammy mailing lists. Click Here to calculate the cost of doing PR in-house.
You can develop relationships like we have – over our 10-year history as a firm and our decades of individual experience – with USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Fox News, CNN, Cosmopolitan and hundreds of other major news media outlets we’ve gotten our clients featured in, but why should you? Like the food and beverage experts at Dave & Buster’s, the communications experts at Verizon and the industry experts at Brightway Insurance (who experienced a 300-percent increase in call volume two weeks after we started a PR campaign for them), you are the expert at what you do.
And Axia is the expert at public relations.
How much does public relations cost? How much do you want to grow?