Why is a project fee replacing the traditional retainer for PR services?
PR companies traditionally charged a retainer fee where clients paid to secure PR services as required. The PR agency would be available to assist the client with work as it arose. If the PR work related to news or crisis management, the agency could be required at any time. The PR consultancy could not plan their work into a calendar. In such cases a retainer was, and still may be, the best way to pay for the business relationship.
Today, companies are looking for a PR service which is more like a promotional communications service. This kind of PR is closely allied with Content Marketing and Digital Marketing.
The client company usually makes a marketing plan based around announcements, product launches and trade shows. They may make a content plan as well. If the marketing department plans these in detail the PR consultant can also plan their work and cost it fairly accurately. In my case, I can estimate the cost of clients’ projects so my consultancy works on project fees not retainers.
A freelance PR consultant can work flexibly, but the work is more effective if there is some continuity. A PR can work more effectively when he or she has a warm relationship with the right editors. They also get to know their clients’ business and market very well. The consultant will also become acquainted with the company’s leaders, and all this means the work will go much better.
It is not usually efficient to issue a single press release, for several reasons. Issuing one press release is a like running one advertisement. People see it and soon forget. If a company wants to build brand awareness, it is better to run a longer campaign that will create greater impact and recall. A series of releases in a campaign will be more effective, and we can arrange it on a project basis.
There is another, more subtle reason why an ongoing relationship with a consultancy works better. When you begin working with journalists, you realise that the relationship with editors is not a one-way street. We send them news material, but they may also contact us with requests when they need information. They may have questions that your executives can answer, or they may be looking for photographs. If you have a regular arrangement with your PR consultancy, you are likely to benefit from these extra opportunities to provide interviews, case studies and images.