Advice series 4: A PR campaign or a PR retainer?

So, you’ve decided that PR is right for your business, and you like the sound of its benefits. But now you need to consider whether to engage an agency for a one-off campaign or hire them as part of a long-term retainer.

Which should you go for?

The truth is; it kind-of depends.

When the campaign wins

There are instances where a campaign is perfectly-suited for your needs.

For example, if you’re running a launch event, you might want to task your chosen PR agency with promoting it – before, during and after the date – over an agreed period of time. And that makes total sense, because there’s a clear objective: to maximise attendance.

A campaign often takes a fast-flurry-of-activity approach, pulling in a number of channels/tactics, such as traditional/digital PR, social media, sponsorship, email and direct marketing, for example.

This intensive style of project means that you can concentrate your efforts towards one, integrated purpose, within a short frame of time, making your story a difficult one to miss among your target audience.

There may be another instance when a one-off campaign is required – and that’s if your budget doesn’t necessarily allow for a retainer, but there’s a story in particular that you’d like to shine a spotlight on.

For example, you may have won an industry award, landed a big contract or grown your business exponentially. This kind of news story offers you the opportunity to ‘dip your toe’ into the world of PR and find out if it works for you – and we get it.

You need to ensure that your hard-earned money is being invested wisely, before committing to a programme of PR.

When the retainer wins

However, what we often recommend – and not because we want to shamelessly plug our services (!) – is that PR usually works best when it’s part of a long-term effort.

Creating credibility and building a brand reputation takes time – it’s not something that’s going to happen overnight.

When you commit yourself to a good communications partner, they will fight in your corner to secure and deliver relevant, money-making, reputation-building opportunities.

That’s why it’s important to work with a team who are both forward-thinking, planning campaigns and ideas in line with the things on your business’ horizon; and highly on-the-ball – meaning that your organisation can react to things happening outside your control.

For example, we can engage in ‘newsjacking’ on your behalf, whereby we can inject your own ideas/opinions into a breaking news story, generating coverage and social media engagement.

There’s simply no time to hang around and discuss the bureaucracy of the PR agreement.

A second benefit of the retainer model is this: a journalist may call us for help with a specific topic; or we may meet a person who could directly benefit you – and that’s where we join the dots.

Essentially, our clients can tap into our contacts, knowledge and relationships.

Another tick in the retainer’s corner is that, when a client sees what we can do, they begin to really have confidence in us – often leading to us becoming a trusted advisor, with much more freedom; leading to better content and better results.

We can be much more creative and flexible, working hard towards your ambitions.

As an ongoing client, you also receive maximum value. A one-off campaign requires just as much set-up time as onboarding a new client, which is reflected in the associated fee.

So, what conclusion have you come to – is it to be a campaign, or a month-on-month retainer? Or are you still unsure?

Get in touch. We’re a PR and marketing agency based in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire – and we can provide best-practice recommendations.

We’d love to hear from you!

01484 941044

Next up: What are the tools of a PR agency?