Why are PR retainer fees so expensive? Because you continue to pay the ridiculous monthly retainer fees that firms charge, that’s why. You don’t even ask them to quantify the commercial return you will receive on the investment they are asking you to make – and so most PR firms make no effort.
What’s Your Budget?
The first question that any PR company asks when you enquire about working with them is ‘what’s your budget?’ And you tell them. At least, you tell them the number you think is the going rate for the cookie-cutter PR ‘strategies’ most sell comprising a standard set of activities and, let’s be honest, very little strategic input. It’s like playing poker where you show all of the other players your cards – and then wonder why you always end up losing your shirt.
If you want to make public relations more affordable here are three easy things you can do:
Start being more specific in what you need.
You don’t need media pitching. You DEFINITELY don’t need somebody else doing it on your behalf. Focus on specific short-term outcomes that will help you achieve your big hairy business goals – and have a PR company tell you how they are going to help you achieve them. Then ask them to put a price on their part in that process.
Focus on building relationships.
Relationships are the key to the success of every business. Devote time, energy and money on building strong relationships with the handful of people that are critical to achieving your next milestone
Whether it’s milestones towards your ultimate goals or stepping-stones to building a relationship with key people, start focusing on specifics. Most PR firms justify their activity on the basis that they’re trying to deliver awareness. Most of the activity is wasted [at your expense] because they’re targeting the wrong people. More focus means less waste.
Stop telling PR firms what your budget is.
It’s the fastest way to have them spend every single cent – and more often than not, it’s not necessary. More often than not your budget is really what you think the going rate is – but there is no ‘going rate’. You can’t put a price on activity – only on advice and outcomes that deliver value.
Only you have the power to change the price of PR retainers, by voting with your money. If you refuse to buy in the way that most PR firms sell then they’ll have to change. But, while you continue to play their game – a game they’ve loaded to ensure they always win, PR will continue to cost thousands of dollars every month and continue to deliver little value for your investment.
It’s up to you!
— What is public relations?
Public relations is a process of strategically building mutually beneficial relationships with the people that matter most to the growth of a small or early-stage business.