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Public relations
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Uploaded 2008-05-05 00:00:00; for current version see http://www.londonfreelance.org/feesguide/print.php?§ion=Public+relations

Rates in public relations vary hugely. The "high budget" and "low budget" categories are no more than guides. Some clients fall well above the "high budget" band.

Public Relations covers a wide variety of tasks with an equally diverse range of clients. Surveys of NUJ members find them working in government and public affairs, education, entertainment, health, industry and commerce, trade unions and political parties, not-for-profit organisations and charities.

The day-to-day work may involve writing press releases, speeches or film scripts. It could also involve producing brochures or annual reports or co-ordinating studio or location photography. It could include organising special events such as news conferences, conferences, or exhibitions. Public relations work of course makes extensive use of photographs - see Photography / Public relations rates.

This area of work tends to command higher prices than most, but it also requires a more complex mix of skills and experience and, often, a far greater degree of responsibility than other sectors. Generally, while clients respect a journalistic background, in many cases they are looking for more, including specific PR experience and skill, knowledge and above all contacts in a particular sector.

The rates vary widely - probably more than in any other sector. While some small non-profit organisations may not be prepared to pay more than £90 a day, other clients may be offering £1000 or more. The freelance PR's challenge is to negotiate a decent rate for every job in every different set of circumstances.

Writing articles that require extensive research should be charged for by the hour, at the consultancy rate. The fee for specialist copy written by an expert should include a premium of at least 10% extra.

Hidden costs

Although writing for in-house magazines may be paid per 1000 words, payment for PR is often by the day or hour, for complete jobs over weeks or months, or for a set number of stories or releases. It is vital to make a correct estimate of the amount of time needed for research and interviews.

Those used to handing in one draft may find that they have to agree to and quote for several sets of revisions - this is particularly true of corporate and annual report work. Dealing with revisions may involve not just an exchange of texts but going in to meetings: cynics would say that meetings are what the kind of person who engage freelances to do PR produce.

Professional indemnity insurance may be unavoidable in PR - particularly when carrying out corporate work and exhibitions. Freelances may also need to take out insurance against the entire print run of a brochure being pulped because of an error. Check contracts carefully: NUJ members should take advice from the union.

Public relations contents:

Editing and production

One reason that these rates are higher than those for equivalent tasks on magazines is that in this sector freelances are frequently taking full responsibility for the job, rather than working to a member of staff such as a production editor. Another is simply that there's more money around in the sector.

Notes on negotiating rates for Editing and production

These are some things to remember when negotiating rates for public relations editing and production work. And please send us your accounts of successful negotiations.

We particularly welcome feedback from members on these notes.

The suggested rates: Editing and production (Know a better rate? tell us!)

Rates vary hugely. The "high budget" and "low budget" categories are no more than guides. Some clients fall well above the "high budget" band.

Editing and production - category: High budget
Sub-editing: per dayGBP320.00
Page layout - brochures & annual reports: per day (include collection & preparation of copy)GBP240.00
Page layout - brochures and annual reports: per page (allows for meetings etc)GBP140.00
Page layout - corporate magazines: per dayGBP155.00
Montage/photo correction: per hourGBP100.00
Editing and production - category: Low budget

Editing and production for low-budget clients is the area of PR work that attracts the worst payments. Talking the client through the skills and knowledge required merely to stop them looking stupid, and the degree of responsibility this involves, may sometimes reap dividends.

Sub-editing: per dayGBP210.00
Page layout - brochures and annual reports: per day (include collection & preparation of copy)GBP170.00
Page layout - brochures and annual reports: per page (allows for meetings etc)GBP100.00
Page layout - corporate magazines: per dayGBP120.00
Montage/photo correction: per hourGBP80.00

Project fees

This section covers a huge variety of tasks for clients ranging in wealth from absolute poverty to exceeding the GDP of most countries - via, of course, those clients that merely claim to be low-budget because they're jealous of the latter. Negotiate hard.

Notes on negotiating rates for Project fees

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

We particularly welcome feedback from members on these notes.

The suggested rates: Project fees (Know a better rate? tell us!)

Rates vary hugely. The "high budget" and "low budget" categories are no more than guides. Some clients fall well above the "high budget" band.

Project fees - category: High budget

These suggestions for high-budget PR projects are the roughest of guides. Especially with consultancy work, clients may feel they have achieved - and in fact obtain - better value by paying more. (Compare luxury goods like perfume, for which higher prices themselves offer customer value.)

Campaign organisation: per dayGBP800.00
Event organisation (excluding venue hire etc): per dayGBP800.00
Exhibition planning (excluding venue hire etc): per dayGBP800.00
Sponsorship management: per dayGBP800.00
In-house press office work: per dayGBP330.00
Consultancy work: per day fromGBP500.00
Consultancy work: retainer per monthGBP2400.00
Project fees - category: Low budget
Campaign organisation: per dayGBP530.00
Event organisation (excluding venue hire etc): per dayGBP530.00
Exhibition planning (excluding venue hire etc): per dayGBP530.00
Sponsorship management: per dayGBP530.00
In-house press office work: per dayGBP220.00
Consultancy work: per dayGBP320.00
Consultancy work: retainer per monthGBP1200.00

Writing and research

Journalists writing public relations material need to be very clear whether what the client is actually buying is a byline - and whether that's ethical in the circumstances. Even anonymous work is likely to be much more time-consuming than filing copy for a magazine, given the likelihood of meetings.

Notes on negotiating rates for Writing and research

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

We particularly welcome feedback from members on these notes.

The suggested rates: Writing and research (Know a better rate? tell us!)

Rates vary hugely. The "high budget" and "low budget" categories are no more than guides. Some clients fall well above the "high budget" band.

Writing and research - category: High budget
Press releases: per 1000 wordsGBP350.00
Press releases: per day (include research time)GBP450.00
Brochures and annual reports: per day (include 2 or more sets of revisions)GBP450.00
Speech writing: 15-30 mins (include research and briefing)GBP2400.00
Corporate journalism: per 1000 words fromGBP550.00
Web journalism: per 1000 words fromGBP600.00

Notes:

  • Writing articles that require extensive research should be charged for by the hour, at the consultancy rate - see Project fees.
  • Fees for specialist copy written by an expert should include a premium of at least 10% extra.
  • Freelances should charge a premium, for example 25% extra, for taking full responsibility for production up to and including image-setting.
Writing and research - category: Low budget
Press releases: per 1000 wordsGBP160.00
Press releases: per day (include research time)GBP270.00
Brochures and annual reports: per day (include 2 or more sets of revisions)GBP270.00
Speech writing: 15-30 mins (include research and briefing)GBP1100.00
Corporate journalism: per 1000 wordsGBP250.00
Web journalism: per 1000 wordsGBP270.00

§ See: Professional Indemnity insurance for NUJ members <http://www.imaginginsurance.co.uk/writers.html>

§ See: Photography / Public Relations rates

Text © Mike Holderness & previous contributors; Moral rights asserted. Comments to ffg@londonfreelance.org 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.