What everyone wants to know about PR fees
Each year the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) carries out benchmarking research on typical fees charged by PR consultancies of different sizes and locations.
Working on some reasonable assumptions about the mix of account executives and senior counsel in a specialist small or medium sized agency working on a fairly typical PR programme, I calculate the estimate on fees would be at least £6,000 per month. Assume annual contract fees of no less than £120,000 per year in larger city agencies.
Now we can debate the numbers, and how realistic such fees would be for many clients in building and construction. But ultimately, what really matters of course is value.
So how do you judge value for money when it comes to PR and marketing?
We believe value is measured most effectively by comparing results against the targets and KPIs you set right at the start of your PR and marketing programme. You should be measuring outcomes, not just outputs.
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 two, three, four, or six 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
That’s all well and good. But what if…
- Estates Gazette is not a priority publication to reach your target audience?
- The article in question failed to mention your three most important messages?
- It mentioned a competitor more favourably, or gave more prominence to their quote instead of yours?
- The piece appeared online instead of the printed magazine, where you can’t buy ‘half a page’ of advertising anyway?
- Your PR team was supposed to be keeping you out of the press?
How do you judge the ‘worth’ of their work now?
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A better way to measure PR effectiveness in construction and property
At LMC, we never use AVEs (please don’t even ask). In this age of data and analytics, it’s just not necessary. And it’s not helpful to your organisation, either.
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 three 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 you your own preferred, easy-to-understand, easy-to-replicate metrics to track PR and social media quantity, quality and effectiveness. (In many cases, this may need you to put in place some proper tracking too) – We are great fans of Paul Sutton’s structure of measuring ‘Reach’, ‘Response’, ‘Resonance’ and ‘Return’.
We are constantly learning, improving and refining our evaluation services. But our aim is to ensure all our PR clients can measure return on investment in a way that is meaningful and makes sense to the board.
We are delighted to be recognised as a PRCA-approved Measurement Champion (one of just 22 agencies, last time we checked).
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?
- Is 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?