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Notes on negotiating rates for
Public relations / Project fees

These are some things to remember when negotiating rates for PR projects. And please send us your accounts of successful negotiations.

  • The rates suggested for copyright work are for limited licences: each extra use licensed should attract an extra fee.
  • When writing is paid for by the day, however, clients are likely to assume extended use and it is the freelance's responsibility to establish what this covers.
  • Being clear about what uses are licensed is about more than immediate financial return. A specialist freelance may, for example, be prepared to see their name attached to a "white-paper" style project for, say, a technology company, but must not allow it to be used in advertising - see the NUJ Code of Conduct.
  • The rates are suggested as minima against which freelances can assess what they are offered and negotiate upward according to their experience and specialist knowledge and the value of the work.
  • In negotiating fees for PR work, probably more than for any other kind, it is important for the freelance to follow Rule One of negotiations: get the client to name a figure first. Then ask for more. See negotiating rates and rights.
  • It is essential to be aware of, and agree clearly, what is expected. A writer used to contributing to newspapers, for example, will be much in demand by PR companies, especially for work where it is ethical for their known name to be used, and they decide to allow this. But those used to firing off copy and, if they're very lucky, seeing what the subs have done to it ten minutes before it goes to press, will be in for a shock. Projects, even more than single pieces of writing or series of photographs, are likely to involve meetings: meetings to discuss the broad goals and parameters of the project, meetings to discuss the exact commission, meetings to discuss progress, meetings to discuss revisions... and the freelance should be paid for time spent in all of these.
  • The rates for shifts do not include paid time off, which should be added - see Shift payments - tax and time off.
  • Freelances who are registered for VAT will add it to every invoice.
  • We particularly welcome feedback from members on these notes.
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Text © Mike Holderness & previous contributors; Moral rights asserted. The collection (database right) © National Union of Journalists. Comments to please. You may find the glossary helpful.

The National Union of Journalists must not, can not and would not wish to dictate rates or terms of engagement to members or to editors. The information presented here is for guidance and as an aid to equitable negotiation only.

Suggestions apply to contracts governed by UK law only. In any event, nothing here should be construed as legal advice.