How much you should be paying for PR, and how to judge value for money
What everyone wants to know about fees
The Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) carries out benchmarking research each year on typical day rates and fees charged by PR consultancies of different sizes and locations.
Freelance PR rates seem to be pegged around £215-£250 a day, while a day rate for an experienced account manager will vary between around £750-£936. Director level expertise in a medium sized agency will cost you about £1,590 a day, and more than £2,200 a day in very large London agencies.
As with all things though, you get what you pay for - and you'll have seen this poster before, no doubt:
We can argue whether this adage is still as true as it was. But ultimately, what all clients want is value for money.
How you judge this will be determined entirely by the targets and KPIs you set right at the start of your PR and marketing programme.
The old evaluation metrics
Once upon a time, PR agencies measured the value of their media relations activities by 'Advertising Value Equivalent' (AVE).
It worked like this:
- Take a press cutting achieved in, say, Estates Gazette, and measure its size in column inches.
- Work out how much it would cost to buy the same sized space in the magazine if you bought it as advertising.
- Multiply that amount by 2, 3, 4, 6 times or whatever the agency thinks is fair (because editorial is considered so much more 'valuable' than just an ad).
- Report back to the client that this coverage is 'worth' £X,000.
- What if Estates Gazette is not a priority publication to reach your target audience?
- What if the article in question failed to mention your three most important messages?
- What if it mentioned a competitor more favourably, or gave more prominence to their quote instead of yours?
- What if the piece appeared online instead of the printed magazine, where you can't buy 'half a page' of advertising anyway?
- Or what if, in fact, your PR team was supposed to be keeping you OUT of the press?
How do you judge the 'worth' of their work now?
There is a better way
LMC will not use AVEs (please don't ask). In this age of data and analytics, it's just not necessary, and it's not helpful to your organisation.
Wherever we can, we use the evaluation metrics recommended by AMEC (the international association for the measurement and evaluation of communication).
We adopt a clear approach to PR and social media evaluation, based on these 3 Principles:
- The importance of goal setting and benchmarking to allow tracking over time.
- Measuring the effect on outcomes and business results wherever possible, as well as measuring outputs.
- Agreeing with each client their own preferred, easy-to-understand, easy-to-replicate metrics to track PR and social media quantity, quality and effectiveness. (In many cases, this is likely to need the client to put in place some proper tracking too).
We are constantly learning, improving and refining our evaluation services. But our aim is to ensure every PR client can measure return on investment in a way that is meaningful and makes sense to the Board.
Questions that count
If you are looking to measure value for money, ask your PR consultancy these three questions:
- How did your work help us to achieve the goals we set on Day One?
- Was there a faster, more impactful and cost effective way of achieving the same results?
- And if so, what should we do next to refine and improve our PR and marketing programme?
Need further advice?
Call us for a free, confidential and no obligation chat. We’re happy to help – and if we can’t help you ourselves, then we may know someone else who can.
Telephone Liz Male on 01234 712 279.