PR services are an art form and like art, the perceived value varies and there is no true standardized cost. Aside from perceived value, there are two other things that factor into the price of hiring a PR consultant: the geographic location of the project and who is hired. Costs vary per city; the costs of PR services in Bakersfield, CA differ greatly from Boston, MA. Although a large PR agency may seem as though it will be more expensive than a freelancer or in-house team, it is not so clearly cut.
Here is a breakdown of sample pricing per hour for Freelancers, In-house teams and Agencies:
Freelancer: $25 to $125/hr
In-House Team: This is a salaried position that ranges from $30,000 to $80,000+
Agency: $60 to $250/hr
In the long run, an in-house team may be more expensive because of the overhead costs with hiring a salaried person, but it all depends on your company needs.
There are a variety of different ways that outsourced public relations agencies or freelancers bill their clients:
1. A base fee with an hourly or project rate plus any out-of-pocket expenses
2. Hourly/per project billing plus out of pocket expenses
3. Fees for a particular amount of time worked plus extra hours at an hourly rate and out-of-pocket expenses
4. Flat fee for all time plus out-of-pocket expenses
5. Pay for performance is a newer model used by agencies where they only get paid once results have been achieved. (This is not a common billing model.)
*Out-of-pocket expenses can be charged either at cost or with agency markup.
Public relations is considered a service rendered. Therein, charges are not based on quantity of press releases produced, or number of e-mail marketing campaigns, but rather on the time and effort placed into crafted the material. Each PR option has its advantages and disadvantages, and it can be difficult to know which to select. Starting off with an agency or a freelancer may help your company understand what its PR needs are, the amount of time it will take to complete particular projects and what future PR goals may be. Being able to answer these questions will help you determine if hiring an in-house team or outsourcing the work to a marketing firm is more cost effective.
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