Hiring a PR firm is fraught with excitement, questions, and yes, sometimes sticker shock. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times: “I had no idea PR firms cost that much!”
Feelings about price are relative, really. One person’s expensive is another’s bargain; but suffice to say, some prospective clients don’t realize that PR professionals are like any other professional or skilled tradesperson. We have skills, experience, contacts, and proven strategies that we can’t give you for $25 an hour. If we did, we’d be out of business pretty fast.
When I’m contacted by people seeking PR services, I lay out the “display case” of PR and content marketing products we offer. I also inform prospective clients about fees with a good ballpark range, stipulating that until the contract is worked out, it’s a general estimate.
If the prospective client is still interested, then it’s proposal time, where we lay out the general strategy and fee structure. From there it’s usually a question of “good fit” or some negotiation about the budget. No dramatic surprises.
However, I know I’ve failed in our process when, after sending a proposal, we get one or more of the following:
A. “I had no idea PR firms cost that much! I can’t hire you!”
B. “How about we trade?”
C. Crickets. (No response.)
And guess what? If we hear any of those things after the proposal stage, it’s likely not the prospect’s fault. It’s usually ours.
I didn’t do a good enough job explaining what I charge. If I have an initial conversation and you don’t hang up the phone or leave the meeting with a ballpark figure of what my services will cost for your project, campaign, or whatever, then I probably have no one to blame but myself when a proposal goes nowhere.
This is a lesson for small businesses that provide services. Are the items in your display case clearly marked? I by no means believe you should post a menu of prices on your website, but if you’re going into a conversation that looks promising, you owe it to yourself to make sure your concept of “affordable” or “reasonable” is in the same ballpark your prospect plays in.