How much does a PR agency cost?

Hannah Brice Written by
Hannah Brice

If you’re asking this question, you face one of three things:

  • a crisis, that you need managed carefully and quickly
  • a product launch or business development that you want to tell the world about
  • you’re new and excited and you want to get exposure quickly.

The fact that you found this page means you’re not used to appointing PR agencies, and don’t have tens of thousands of pounds a month to spend on PR. Yup, that’s what the big boys cost.

What you have is a decent budget for marketing but it has to be spread quite broadly and get results.  Am I correct?  Then read on.

How much does a PR agency cost?

If you approach a few smaller PR agencies, you should find that they offer a service between £2,000 and £5,000 a month. For this, they should offer:

  • at least one press release a month
  • viewpoints or comment pieces for trade media or relevant blogs, and
  • a press office which will cover off:
    • monitoring of the news agenda to spot opportunities to hijack a story with your angle in a beautifully crafted comment piece
    • monitoring your target media’s editorial calendars for relevant opportunities to contribute
    • media briefings for your spokespeople
    • dealing with incoming media enquiries

What will this achieve

The reality is that while every agency tries to find that killer angle for every client – that angle that will secure you a full sweep of national coverage even though you have no brand awareness – it’s rare. It takes a stroke of a genius, a good team and a lot of luck.

What this means is that you won’t get great press coverage immediately. It’ll take time. Time to get to know your business. Time to find that angle. And time to warm the media to you. So allow for a minimum of three months with your PR agency to give them time to get results.

As a rule of thumb though, you should be looking at at least one piece of top tier coverage for every £500 you spend, every month.

What else do you need to know

Typically, your PR agency will assign a team to you consisting of:

  • an Account Director (responsible for strategy, senior consultancy and….schmoozing you)
  • an Account Manager (responsible for managing day-to-day activities, quality control, and ensuring you get the results you need) and
  • 1 or 2 Account Executives (who write content, speak to the media and manage coverage collation and admin).

You may get a call weekly or fortnightly to update you on activities, a weekly report to provide status updates, and coverage emails as and when new press coverage is achieved.

Warning signs to look out for

If the budget you’re paying your agency is less than £4,000 a month, it’s likely you’ll be one of their smaller clients. Of course, that doesn’t mean you’re not important to them. You should still get a quality service. But if you have a niggling feeling that things could be better, check for the following issues:

  • The account executives in your team are brand new so any content they write will take time and they won’t have any media contacts.
  • Your Account Director is very hard to get hold of. This could mean they’re busy with other things and not very involved in your account which could mean that the Account Manager is in fact in charge.
  • You’re getting lots of reporting that doesn’t actually mean anything or show real progress.
  • The activities they’re undertaking feel like box-ticking exercises rather than part of an overall strategy to grow your business.

A smart and cost effective alternative is to work with a smaller PR outfit or a freelancer. This will mean you have senior people fulfilling all of the above roles, there’s low staff turnover and you’ll get a lot more for your money as they don’t have to cover the overheads of bigger agencies.

How do you find a good PR agency?

A good place to start is to google ‘PR agency’ or ‘PR consultant’ and the location in which you are based. Your agency doesn’t need to be located near you, but you certainly want them to be within 2 hours travel of you.

Pull together a shortlist and arrange calls with them. On the call, brief them on what you need and get them to talk you through their approach and experience. You’ll be able to tell very quickly who it’s worth continuing with.

The next step will be for them to write you a proposal outlining how they’d help you and then a meeting or Skype call to discuss. You may wish to run a pitch process but this will take time and won’t necessarily make your decision any easier to make!

Start by calling us

If you’d like an honest view of whether or not PR is indeed the right approach for your business, or you’d like a more detailed answer to your question ‘how much does a PR agency cost’, then please do fill in your details below, and we’ll be in touch as soon as possible.

It might also help to read our blog post ‘What type of marketing is best for my business‘ if you’re considering other options.