I Can't Afford a
Publicity Campaign...Can I?
By Todd Brabender
Spread the News Public Relations, Inc.
phrase I hear over and over again from many entrepreneurs, small
businesses owners and inventors: “I’d love to hire someone to launch
our publicity campaign professionally, but we can’t afford it, so I’m
just going to have to do it on my own.”
past several months, I have been conducting an informal survey among
entrepreneurs and business owners who have contacted me about my
services. I have found that due to their lack of information or
knowledge on the topic, many businesses typically over-estimate or
over-budget the cost of a prospective public relations/publicity
campaign. During my PR consultation with them, I asked: “How much do
you think it will cost to launch a solid, effective PR/publicity
campaign for your product/business?” Of the 102 people I’ve queried:
Thought a professional PR campaign would cost $10,000+ per month
Thought a professional PR campaign would cost $5,000-$10,000 per
Thought a professional PR campaign would cost $3,000-$5,000 per
Thought a professional PR campaign would cost $1,000-$3,000 per
Thought a professional PR campaign would cost less than $1,000 per
is -- you can get a publicity/PR campaign in all of those price
ranges. What you get for your money and how effective the campaign
will be is the real question. It is true that the more you pay the
more you get. But getting the most publicity/PR exposure doesn’t mean
you have to get most expensive PR agency or specialist.
A good rule
of thumb is to align yourself with a PR business that best reflects
your business size. Most times their rates will be in line with your
prospective PR budget. If you are a small business owner with two
employees, you need not hire a high-dollar PR agency with dozens of
employees. Find a PR business whose office size and capabilities
closely resemble your business.
point -- there is a large PR agency in a fancy building downtown a few
miles from my office. Frankly, we are not even competition to each
other – in fact we have even referred clients to each other. Why? They
typically work with large corporations and implement campaigns of
around $10,000 per month. Mechanically, the downtown firm and my
business do the same thing when it comes to PR campaigns: professional
media release composition; extensive media market research; articulate
personalized distribution to the media; months of media relations
(article placements/interview scheduling/media request fulfillment,
clipping/tracking of media placements, etc.).
with the big firm doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get an experienced
associate working on your campaign. So are you getting what you are
paying for? A friend of mine who works at a major PR firm gave me the
following breakdown of billing fees in his office:
little, if any professional experience)
of professional experience)
years of professional experience. Agency decision makers.)
those prices to many small PR shops or individual PR specialists. Many
have started their own PR businesses after years of experience in the
industry and typically charge $50 - $100 per hour to professionally
launch and maintain your campaign. Many times, you can get a seasoned
PR veteran who will work directly with you and your staff for cheaper
than the “Intern/Junior” executive rate at a downtown firm.
one word of advice -- when choosing a smaller firm or individual to do
your PR, make sure they have the same tools that the bigger agencies
do: updated media lists/contacts; personalized media distribution
capabilities; professional clipping/tracking services to get copies of
each of your media placements (articles, tapes from TV/radio shows) as
well as the intangibles of expert communication/media relations skills
and professional pitching prowess. If they are cheaper, but don’t have
all the tools to help you in the best manner possible, you are
probably better off spending a little extra money to make sure your
campaign is launched and maintained correctly.
benefits of hiring a professional (individual PR specialist or PR
firm) to launch your campaign are:
Campaign Implementation – Improperly composed or poorly pitched
campaigns are the major downfall of many PR efforts. Poorly written,
over-commercialized media releases; uncalculated, misdirected mass
e-mailing of the release pitch; no follow-up media relations/media
request fulfillment; etc.. Your first impression to the media is a
lasting one – make sure it’s a good one.
Contacts – Most PR agencies have established multiple media contacts
over several years that can lead to much better and more numerous
media placements for your campaign. Let their foot in the door
Efficiency and Effectiveness – PR specialists/agencies generate
publicity full time, 8-12 hours per day and know the ins and outs,
shortcuts and secrets to getting the job done better and quicker.
Sure you could hang your own drywall or do your own plumbing, but do
you have the tools, the time and the expertise to make it cost
effective? I always tell my clients, “You do what you do well, I’ll
do what I do well and we’ll collectively move this business further
up the ladder.”
when it comes to choosing a professional PR agency or individual to
work with – signing up for a higher priced campaign doesn’t
necessarily mean you will get better results than a cheaper campaign.
And the inverse is true as well. Over the past year or so, many
“low-cost PR/publicity services” have begun to pop up all over the
Internet. Ones that promise to write and launch a press release for as
low as $99. They are low in cost – because frankly many are low in
quality. Bigger is not necessarily better, and cheap does not always
mean a good bargain.
If you have
the time, tools and talent to launch and maintain your own campaign,
you should definitely do so. If not – there are a number of public
relations/publicity firms, specialists and services out there.
Research to find the one whose services and fees match your business
plan. Once business owners, entrepreneurs, and inventors learn more
about their options when it comes to launching a PR campaign -- many
find that they can’t afford NOT to have one.
Brabender is the President of Spread The News Public Relations, Inc.
specializes in generating media exposure and publicity for innovative
products, businesses, experts and inventions.
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