How PR budgets are changing

PR budgets used to be for fees.

As we work to the PESO model, when we’re working out PR budgets, we need to ensure there are resources for paid media.

Recently a client came to me with one budget that was for ‘PR’. I asked if there was a budget for paid media, after our proposal had outlined the requirement for paying to reach certain audiences, and the answer was no. The budget was the full budget.

A few years ago, or maybe even still, most PR practitioners would have taken the full budget as a fee. Not any more. If we’re going to do it right, we need to be more flexible with our working.

I quickly worked out a third of the budget would be required for paid media to reach a specific audience we had identified as key. ‘You fool’ I hear you cry. I’ve realised that I will have to sacrifice a proportion of some fixed fees to paid media, especially if the part of the brief is targeted at an audience you’re not going to engage easily through editorial and social posts alone. And in this case particularly, as there are fairly limited channels to use content marketing, for a number of reasons.

So within a budget, the PR now has to consider design, photography, filming, media monitoring, occasionally paid platforms such as MailChimp due to the size of database, and now, paid media including paid advertising, bloggers and social media advertising.

Forms of paid advertising I work with varies depending on the audience. I’ve covered print ads, advertorials, email ads, online ads and skin take-overs on websites.

Design has included everything from ads, email templates to social graphics. Occasionally you can use the likes of Canva to develop your own visuals, but when it comes to campaigns, it’s best to include this within the design brief, for consistency and to come up with cool visuals which work over several graphics.

Bentley did a great job on Instagram recently, where it used three separate images, posted at different times, to reveal one fantastic image. Take a look. Similarly, for the Hello, My Name is Paul Smithexhibition (finishing on Sunday by the way), Paul Smith created three images for us to use, across a Facebook advert, which used the three image ad. The ‘Hello’ was spread across all three images and looked great when it was set in the ad.

Hello Paul Smith 1 Hello Paul Smith 2 Hello Paul Smith 3

I had mentioned bloggers earlier. A lot of bloggers now, particularly the influential ones, will charge for reviewing, sharing and posting. Whilst we must always remember to be transparent about the paid nature of the post, if you work in fashion for example, you are bound to have to pay bloggers (or celebs on the likes of Instagram) to feature products.

According to a post I read on PR Daily by Abbi Whitaker, Facing the hard questions about paid content;

A recent GroupHigh survey found that today’s influential social media users aren’t settling for free products or promises of ad placements on their blogs. Roughly 70 percent of them expect cash instead.

Mid-level users are charging from $200 to $500 per post, and more than 80 percent say they accept monetary compensation from businesses. “Influencer marketing” now looks more like the traditional advertising business—monetary compensation for a contracted endorsement—than a public relations strategy.

It’s right. PR practitioners need to start thinking about pursuing and nurturing influencer relationships. Bloggers can be huge influencers and for that they command a fee – a slice of PR budgets.

The article also went on to talk about the value of a paid post:

A celebrity without expertise brings little value. In almost every niche market, however, a handful of bloggers with as few as 10,000 followers carry sizeable influence.

You should carefully consider who you think is an influencer and ensure they have a shared vision, aligned brand, authentic voice that people will trust and connects with their followers. Does your celeb scream ‘I’m promoting this brand’ or is the tone natural and with their own voice? As with anything you need to attach a goal. What return will you get on your PR budget?

When it comes to paid ads, it’s exactly the same. Did you use a specific URL to monitor clicks and visits? Did you have a call to action? If it’s an online ad, make sure you’re monitoring the effectiveness of it – you can easily change the ad or the URL.  How are you going to measure your activity?

The difficulty in deciding on a budget for paid media is when it comes to splitting the fee for managing the account, creating the content and delivering the results, no matter what the platform. I suggest scoping out a range of media and costs and how they are suited to the client’s brand. You’ll quickly find out which will reach the right audience and fit in with your other plans and that will illuminate some. At the moment, I’m working on a TV commercial for my client, after negotiating audience, spots and overall portion of the budget. For this project TV is the most effective route to engaging this specific audience. The package is cost effective, too.

Finally, we need to be mindful of activating the campaign across other platforms, reinforcing the message to the audience. This comes back to the overall strategic plan and ensuring timings and messaging are aligned with audiences, platforms and goals.

Thanks for reading my blog post. I hope you found it useful. Please share it among your network if you think others will find it useful, too.

A version of this post originally appeared on Blog post by Laura Sutherland, Chief at Aura and Founder of The PRofessionals