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By Todd Brabender

It’s a 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.”

Over the 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:

· 11% - Thought a professional PR campaign would cost $10,000+ per month
· 32% - Thought a professional PR campaign would cost $5,000-$10,000 per month
· 39% - Thought a professional PR campaign would cost $3,000-$5,000 per month
· 12% - Thought a professional PR campaign would cost $1,000-$3,000 per month
· 6% - Thought a professional PR campaign would cost less than $1,000 per month

The truth 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.

Case in 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. My business works with smaller businesses/individuals -- a PR/publicity campaign with my company would be about $10,000 for an entire year – not just a 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.).

Signing up 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:

· Interns/Junior Executives – bill at $75 / hour
(Very little, if any professional experience)
· Account Executives – bill at $100 - $125 / hour
(1-3 years of professional experience)
· Senior Account Executives – bill at $125 - $200 / hour
(Multiple years of professional experience. Agency decision makers.)


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