Why is Public Relations so expensive?

Why is Public Relations so expensive?

What do you think when Public Relations is mentioned?

Probably glamour and an element of mystery as PR gurus work their magic to make you better known, but on the negative side a lot of expense for something often lacking clarity of outcome.

If that’s your view, then it’s hardly surprising as the stereotypical picture of a young PR person draped in designer clothes at their swanky city office is an image of style over substance, which doesn’t rest easy with businesses, who just want results.

Such agencies are plentiful with huge overheads and smart offices, but this has created a ‘no- go zone’ for many SME enterprises, which really could benefit from public relations to help increase brand recognition and gain more business.

One reason that many SME’s won’t go near PR is that many agencies still like to tie clients into long contracts (typically 12 months) and pay huge monthly retainer fees without really agreeing a tangible return on investment.

However, is a long tie in still really necessary in our high-tech, flexible society – there are many very successful businesses, such as Hootsuite and Xero operating very nicely without tie-ins – clients are free to come and go, such is the confidence they have in their service – so why can’t PR do the same?

Well, broadly speaking we say PR can, taking aside a few set-up costs there really is no need for long contracts.

So, if you want to make PR more affordable, then here are some helpful pointers:-

  • Don’t sign a standard 12-month contract – negotiate but be fair and expect it’ll take time to get your campaign underway.  Long contracts can lead to PR agencies becoming lethargic, and what happens if they aren’t delivering 6 months in?  Incidentally, we don’t tie companies in, because we believe if you’re doing a good job, then clients will stay with you anyway. Strange, hey!
  • Be specific about what you need and be open about your business. Discuss and agree a strategic plan.  Ensure the agency you choose is as passionate about your business as they are about their own.  Focus on the specific markets you want to get to and then let your agency help you get there.
  • Equally, make sure you deal with a point of contact at the agency who you respect and trust, and who you want to work on your account. Too many agencies get you to sign on the dotted line and then hand your account to a junior who hasn’t even met you.
  • Lastly, remember PR is all about building relationships and communicating with the people you want to target to earn trust and buy into your brand. However, this has to be quantifiable. Most PR firms justify their activity on the basis that they are ‘delivering awareness’, but the awareness has to be focused with tangible outcomes.  For instance, a double page spread in Cosmo is great for the ego, but is it that good if you are trying to target middle aged men.

If you buy into the traditional model, with long contracts and junior staff working on your account, then you’ve no real room for complaints – but if you want an agency who’ll adapt themselves to you, then look around, they do exist. We are one of them.

If you fancy a chat about how we might be able to help, just give us a call and show you that substance can triumph over style away from the big city agencies.