PR Specialist Meeting with Client

How Much Does PR Cost and What to Expect

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Have you found yourself at a point where you’re looking to hire a PR agency but not sure where to start?  Cost is always one of the first questions that come to mind. So, how much does it cost to hire a PR agency?  What can you expect as a return on your investment?

What are the differences between PR and Advertising

Before we get into things it’s important to understand the difference between PR (public relations) and advertising.  In layman’s terms, PR is typically earned media and advertising falls into the category of paid media. While both approaches will require a comprehensive strategy, in traditional PR you are attempting to earn media placement in specific areas, whereas with marketing and advertising, you guarantee your placements by purchasing them.  You can also typically forecast for a variety of results with paid media. 

At our agency, we love to incorporate both strategies because the efforts of one complements the other. Typically, with PR you are working with the objective of building brand equity and positioning, to increase brand awareness and in turn, convert sales.  Building brand equity (trust with your target customer) is hugely important and can make your paid media dollars go a lot further.  

An example of a traditional paid media campaign might look like this; Without any brand awareness and trust, Company A might spend a ton of money on a combined digital and print campaign with the hopes of selling X number of products.   This would cost them Y /person to convert them into a sale. 

A combined PR and paid media approach provides the opportunity to first build anticipation, brand awareness, and trust with your target audience, and in turn, bring your cost Y /person down as well as increase the total number of sales. You may also have an easier time gaining the attention of the publications and news outlets you’re hoping to earn media with if you have built a strong foundation of social proof by advertising first.

This is the chain of events that can and will typically happen when you combine the two approaches and trust in the process of PR. 

Should I hire a full-service agency or a PR only firm?

Naturally, as a full-service agency, you may think we’re a little biased but we have a good reason to be! The main reason we believe you should hire a full-service agency to handle your PR needs is that having all of your marketing and communications work handled by the same firm creates a more cohesive and synergized execution. ^See the previous section.

Is my brand poised for PR?

While this all sounds great, not every brand should employ PR efforts.  While technically any brand or company can hire a Public Relations Agency and garner press for their brand, it’s not worth the costs involved. The process we spoke of previously takes some time to get rolling, and for brands who don’t meet the criteria, we deem as “poised for PR” it can take a substantially longer time.   To be “poised for PR”, brands should have a dynamic, distinctive story that truly inspires us and in turn the consumer audience. This type of story is what leaves publications salivating over your press release, and can help garner coverage more easily.  If you lack this compelling narrative, we’d recommend putting your money into a paid media campaign instead, which is still a viable way of gaining brand equity and awareness. 

Cove Dating App Interview - Public Relations Agency Phoenix

Time to talk $$$ – What Should You Expect PR to Cost?

Now that you have a basic understanding of the differences between PR and marketing, and you’ve determined your brand has a compelling story worthy of PR, working PR into your budget is the next step.  Depending on the city or region, prices will of course vary. What is typically universal, though, is that you’ll get what you pay for — especially with an agency.  

Typical monthly retainers with a PR agency will range between $2,000-$5,000 on the low end and for top-notch firms can go all the way up to $20,000-$50,000 per month depending on the scope of work and value provided.  The average monthly cost for PR in Arizona averages around $7,000/mo. 

You’ve seen the numbers, and you’re either suffering from sticker shock at this point, or you’re ready to take a big step forward into the world of PR.  Regardless of this, you’re probably wondering what you’re paying all that money for. Traditionally you’d hire a PR firm for their extensive local and national contacts. While this is still extremely important, you are also hiring them based on the modern value they provide.  The ability to research, strategize, write effectively, common sense and creativity.

Additional Factors Affecting Pricing.

While most engagements fall under the retainer-based pricing model, there may be times where additional projects are added which would fall into an ad hoc project-based fee.  Things like this could be event planning for a launch party or activation event. You may also have unforeseen challenges and it’s great to have a PR specialist on hand to handle crisis management.

Check out this awesome video we produced for Cove’s launch party at the historic Wrigley Mansion. You can see the full Cove case study here!

Respect the Process and Have Patience!

Once you’ve made the commitment to work with a PR agency, understand there’s usually no immediate gratification.  As stated before, it takes time to develop angles, craft pitches, coordinate interviews, and then once all that comes together you’re still at the will of the editors to actually publish the piece.

DO Expect:

  1. To engage in a contract for at least four-six months in order to give your PR firm a fair shot at doing a decent job.
  2. We think it’s fair to expect anticipated and/or garnered press every month after you’ve gotten over the hump (month one or two). Consistency is key.
  3. Expect transparency–in the form of reporting. We provide clients with monthly performance reports that outline all the work performed throughout the previous month (they’re sent out on the 1st) as it relates to branding, media relations (garnered press, leads, pitches), and anything else we’ve been contracted to do.
  4. To move the needle, whether that’s more site traffic, converting more sales, social followers, or all the above.
  5. To be in touch with your PR specialist on a weekly, possibly on a daily basis. See point 5 below, this is a collaborative process, and we will look to you to be available to exchange ideas, provide quotes, go on air for interviews, etc.

DO NOT Expect:

  1. Immediate gratification.  Good things take time, and the first month or two (the hump) can seem slow.
  2. To “cherry-pick” publications within which to be featured. Having targets is great, but we cannot guarantee coverage (ever) in a specific outlet.
  3. To receive the contact information of individual journalists. They don’t want you calling them and we don’t want our relationships tarnished.  We’ve spent years working our way into their good graces, no need to ruin that. 
  4. Performance-based pricing.  
  5. To be hands-off in the process. You’ll need to provide quotes, answer interview questions, and work with your publicist to make magic happen.

Thinking about hiring a public relations agency?  Check us out! The Tigrett Agency is a full-service advertising and public relations agency with the goal of connecting consumers with unique purpose-driven brands.