Consultant vs agency–the age old debate

Courting the press is a time consuming process, and many business owners, particularly entrepreneurs who wear multiple hats, lack the time, desire or expertise to manage a solid PR campaign. If you own a small business, you’re most likely better off using a small boutique agency or a consultant. A “small potato” account will usually be treated as such at a larger firm and relegated to junior personnel who are going to be learning on your dime. Better to take that dime and give it to a focused boutique agency or consultant to extract every ounce of its value.

Cost is another factor. The average big PR agency will bill senior staff time at $250 per hour and junior time at approximately $125 per hour plus fees for overhead and administrative efforts.

Leaner boutique firms, such as Hot Stone Communications, tend to command lower fees than bigger firms since they don’t support bloated executive talent, enormous office space and corresponding overhead.

Free agent consultants with little to no overhead will charge the least at approximately $75-$100 per hour. A recent report I read (I don’t recall the source but I will locate it and update this when I do) stated that the average monthly retainer for spas was between $4,000 – $6,000 per month. The highest was $10,000 and the lowest was $2,000 per month. Beware of the lowest bid. This is one of your biggest decisions as a business owner. Don’t base your decision solely on price.

Before selecting a PR firm, learn the answers to the following questions: 1. Who exactly will be working on your account–senior or junior staff and at what percentage dedication. 2) How does the firm intend to measure it’s success 3) Take some time to review their big and not so big hits. Does their work speak to you and your brand? Are they the kind of people you would want to have dinner with? Because you will be having dinner and some of the folks I’ve met would only warrant a quick cup of coffee.

About Hot Stone Communications

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