Money is time

Monday, 17 February 2014, 17:15 | Category : General
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Deborah Meaden’s recent on-air comment that spending anything less than £3,000 per month on PR was ‘a waste of money’ cued lots of tweeted nods of agreement from PR agencies – including this interesting blog article in PR Week. Whilst I can see exactly why PR folk are keen to use this snippet from a high profile businesswoman to justify fees (and while I agree with much of what has been said), I’m not sure the £3,000 minimum argument entirely stacks up. I also think it ignores one of the most important commodities for successful PR. Time.

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PR is essentially a time-based business, and (whether agencies admit it or not) you are  always paying for time on your account. But with PR companies all charging different rates, to suggest a ‘magic figure’ of £3,000 doesn’t stack up, for the simple fact that £3,000 with one type of resource will not buy you the same amount of time as with another. The differences can be drastic.

For example, London-based global PR behemoths charge double the day rate of a boutique agency in the home counties, and a boutique agency in the home counties will charge you double the amount of a freelancer. Generally speaking, the higher the overheads, the higher the fee. So based on some very rough maths and ballpark figures – here’s how that might work out:

Agency type Budget Time
London behemoth £3000 2 days
Boutique home county £3000 4 days
Freelancer £3000 6 days

Now that’s not to say that time is the only important factor when choosing a PR solution. The most important thing is to work with people you feel comfortable with and a resourcing model that works for your business and your budget – whether that’s a large agency or a single freelancer.

What I will say is that – to a start-up (in the context of which Deborah Meaden’s comment was made) the job is all about getting the word out there and time is certainly a hugely important commodity in the early days. Especially when faced with zero awareness and arguably the most competitive start-up scene for decades. There’s a tonne of time-intensive ground work and education to be done from the get go, and start-ups can often be the most demanding clients.

Meaden would have been better advised to talk about a minimum amount of ‘time’ invested rather than fee – especially given every penny counts when you’re just setting out. Every client should have a good idea of how much time will be spent by their agency each month (whether the agency says they charge on the basis of time or not), and what the desired outcomes will be.

The PR Network’s clients are large and small, established and start-up, and with budgets of all shapes and sizes. What binds them together are two things. Firstly the desire to work with smart, experienced people who get what they do. The second is that they want to work as smartly as possible with their budget, and get the best possible bang for their buck.

Simply put, whether a start up is investing £2,000 or £20,000 per month, our low overheads enable them to buy more time – without compromising on quality.

After all, money is time.

James

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