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NUJ Freelance Fees Guide
Public relations
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Public relations work covers everything from making sure the local paper is aware of a small charity's appeal, to co-ordinating a campaign to rebrand a global corporation as good for the environment and definitely not racist. So rates vary hugely. Here we list rates separately for "Project fees", "Writing and research" and "Editing and production" work. High-profile work in the first two categories can attract very much higher rates than does equivalent work for newspapers or magazines.

Surveys of NUJ members working in public relations have found them working in government and public affairs, education, entertainment, health, industry and commerce, trade unions and political parties, not-for-profit organisations and charities.

Rates in public relations vary hugely. Here we massively simplify into "high budget" and "low budget" categories, which can be no more than guides. Note that some clients fall well above the "high budget" band. Freelances doing public relations work face the challenge of negotiating a decent rate for every job in every different set of circumstances.

Only some who work in public relations are press officers who wait to answer (or, sometimes, skilfully to defer answering) journalists' questions. The day-to-day work may involve pro-actively 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 involve "social media" work, whether responding to Tweets - which would be paid by the day - or strategising campaigns of short videos on TikTok or elsewhere, which is likely to be paid by the project.

It could include organising special events such as news conferences, conferences, or exhibitions.Public relations work of course makes extensive use of photographs - see the separate section with rates for Photography / Public relations.

This area of work commands higher prices than, for example, those charged by the reporters who receive press releases. It 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.

Some clients will pay a "retainer" in return for a journalist being ready to drop everything and, for example, draft a statement responding to breaking news. We deal with these as "project fees".

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 per cent extra.

Hidden costs

Although writing for in-house magazines may be paid per 1000 words, payment for freelance PR work 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 who have been 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 engages freelances to do PR produces - meetings are their "deliverable".

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.

It may be less common for freelances to be hired as company or council spokespeople - the client would rather have someone on staff speaking for it. If it happens, see rates under Project fees.

Public relations contents:

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.

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

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.

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.)

Communications Strategist, per day fromGBP1500.00
Creative director per day, per day fromGBP1400.00
Campaign organisation: per dayGBP1200.00
Event organisation (excluding venue hire etc): per dayGBP1200.00
Exhibition planning (excluding venue hire etc): per dayGBP1200.00
Brand Strategy, per dayGBP1200.00
Sponsorship management: per dayGBP1000.00
Consultancy work: per day fromGBP800.00
In-house press office work: per dayGBP500.00
Consultancy work: retainer per month (freelances will charge on top for major work)GBP2400.00
 
 
Project fees - category: Low budget
Communications Strategist, per day fromGBP1000.00
Creative director per day, per day fromGBP900.00
Campaign organisation: per dayGBP650.00
Event organisation (excluding venue hire etc): per dayGBP650.00
Exhibition planning (excluding venue hire etc): per dayGBP650.00
Sponsorship management: per dayGBP650.00
Consultancy work: per dayGBP450.00
In-house press office work: per dayGBP280.00
Consultancy work: retainer per month (freelances will charge on top for major work)GBP1200.00
 

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. Remember that the NUJ Code of Conduct specifies that a journalist shall not allow their name to be used in advertising.

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.

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. The most important point is that they do not divide between profit-making and non-profit-making organisations. Charities can have high budgets, and commercial organisations - perhaps your neighbourhood florist - low budgets. Note that some clients fall well above the "high budget" band.

Writing and research - category: High budget
SEO (search engine optimisation) per dayGBP850.00
Press releases: per 1000 wordsGBP600.00
Press releases: per day (freelances will charge for research time as well as writing)GBP700.00
Social media content writer, per dayGBP400.00
Social media manager, per dayGBP800.00
Brochures and annual reports: per day (estimate for two or more sets of revisions)GBP700.00
Speech writing: prepare a speech of 15-30 mins (include research and briefing)GBP3500.00
Corporate journalism: per 1000 words fromGBP850.00
 

Notes: public relations / writing and research / all

  • 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 per cent extra.
  • Freelances should charge a premium, for example 25 per cent extra, for taking full responsibility for production up to and including image-setting.
Writing and research - category: Low budget
Press releases: per 1000 wordsGBP250.00
Press releases: per day (include research time)GBP400.00
Social media content writer, per dayGBP220.00
Brochures and annual reports: per day (estimate for two or more sets of revisions)GBP400.00
Speech writing: prepare a speech of 15-30 mins (include research and briefing)GBP1500.00
Corporate journalism: per 1000 words fromGBP350.00
 

Editing and production

One reason that these rates are a bit higher than those for equivalent tasks on newspapers and magazines is that in the public relations 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. The most important point is that they do not divide between profit-making and non-profit-making organisations. Charities can have high budgets, and commercial organisations low budgets. Note that some clients fall well above the "high budget" band.

Editing and production - category: High budget
Sub-editing: per dayGBP500.00
Page layout - brochures & annual reports: per day (include collection & preparation of copy)GBP375.00
Page layout - corporate magazines: per dayGBP250.00
Montage/photo correction: per hourGBP100.00
 
 
Editing and production - category: Low budget

Editing and production for low-budget clients is obviously 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 dayGBP250.00
Page layout - brochures and annual reports: per day (include collection & preparation of copy)GBP190.00
Page layout - corporate magazines: per dayGBP150.00
Montage/photo correction: per hourGBP80.00
 
 

§ See: Photography / Public Relations rates

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

This is updated to 2021-07-09 18:00:00; if you have a printout, check the current version at http://www.londonfreelance.org/feesguide/print.php?section=Public+relations.

Text © Mike Holderness & previous contributors; Moral rights asserted. The collection (database right) © National Union of Journalists. 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.