Questions for freelance PRs!

(7 Posts)
nandl Wed 30-Oct-13 10:02:21

Hi all,

*I am aware this thread is on a very fine line, we are NOT sure yet if we are recruiting, so please do not interpret this as an advertisment*

As a dad with a 2yr old girl, I read mumsnet alot! Strangely, my first post is going to be about NON baby stuff.

We are a small business (in the jewellery sector) and thinking about whether to hire a freelance PR or not. We did speak to some reasonably well known agencies, but they were looking at about £30k+ which we just can't afford.

So, we then thought maybe we should look at freelance. The strange thing here was that after meeting a few people and getting rates etc, the only one which seemed decent wanted the equivalent of £360 a day (£1500/month->£18k/yr + bills/expenses), and they were not senior by any stretch of the imagination (maybe 3 yrs of experience).

However, from looking at some threads on here, that figure could be seen as reasonable when comparing to agency. The key questions which spring to mind are:

1. Credibility - once someone leaves an agency and works for themselves, surely their punching weight diminishes considerably as they lose the PR company brand name? If not, then what value does a "brand" like Mission Media, or Purple PR bring to the table? If targets are high value like Vogue/GQ etc especially.

2. Resources - access to tools like Diary Directory, FeaturesExec etc may be limited (or not?) to a freelancer. If someone wants broad coverage (especially regionals) they would need these right? Do PR freelancers generally have access to these?

Finally, depending on the above, would it not then be better just to pay for the "Resources" (say £2k a year?) and then hire a full time junior PR?

I'm sure there's an element of quality vs quantity, but for £18k, 1 day a week, non office based vs say £22k full time office based (and can help in other areas) I'm struggling to see the value.

Please can some of the PRs out there help with the thought process!!

Thanks,
Nathan

grants1000 Wed 30-Oct-13 15:51:03

It does seem a lot. I work freelance and have done so for 10 years and have adapted my fees to work with various clients and as the economic climate has changed. I also have children so did not work for a while and I built up my client base again, doing small one off and free work to get back up to speed.

What do you want PR to do for you? Sales? Big Christmas/Valentines/Mothers Day push? Is your business online and/or a shop?

To answer your questions:-

1. Yes and No - depends on their contacts, experience and ability. You pay the big money to use an agency that is well respected by the press, who are in the loop, ear to the ground, have easy access to press. When I worked for an agency we would get product requests by magazines all the time for our big name clients and brands, but we would also send in stuff from smaller clients they may never have heard of, hence using the opportunity. This is a great if you are a new brand trying to get noticed but the flip side is that you have to pay £££ for it. However, a really good specialist fashion and beauty freelance PR may well have all these contacts already after years of being in the business.

2. Some freelancers may pay to join Diary Directory and FeaturesExec and that is why you pay more for their services, as they have to cover the cost. Or they may have the contacts already and just keep up to date with new contacts. You could pay to use them, but would you know how? It is quite time consuming to research and source the right people, but if you then get a press list together the update it on an ongoung basis it becomes. You could also pay per project ie: to launch a new collection or service.

I have to dash as I have a docs appt, but in short, try and find a really good freelance fashion PR person, I can't as it is not my area (I do homes, interiors, travel and leisure)

Any more questions please ask.

MrsMargoLeadbetter Thu 31-Oct-13 19:27:25

I am marketing comms, not PR but I would echo the other poster's comments:

- It depends what stories you have to push. Is there enough to keep a full-time person busy? Or would you expand their role to things like social media management etc.

- I would suggest it is better to have less more experienced resource than a full-time person who has little experience. PR can damage a brand if handled badly. They will take up more time as you'll need to direct them I would have thought.

I would either go for a freelancer or maybe consider offering a part-time flex role. The later might attract a senior PR person who wants to work around the kids.

I have outsourced PR before on projects and have paid a bit less than you have been quoted but not much less. They had access to a database.

If you go freelance do an inital project to see if you think it is going to work?

nandl Fri 01-Nov-13 16:07:05

Thank you both for taking the time to reply. A bit more info, and some replies!

We want to launch a completely new range of products, from scratch, so really need to have impact. The first 12 months will be critical as this will drive not only our first lot of Christmas sales, but would also help us get re-sellers on board. We could add some more hero pieces/make some product more inherently PR-able at this stage as developments are not fully finalised.

I would think PR would start around April for Autumn/Winter 14 launch?

- We don't have enough stories to push to keep any full time person busy. They would end up doing social media, approaching bloggers, looking for joint ventures/collaborations etc.

- Completely agree about less of more experience, rather than more of less experience.

- grants1000 mentioned previously working at an agency where they would get lots of product requests. That's ideally what we need but can't afford!

- What do you both think is a reasonable budget to keep for a really good specialist fashion and beauty freelance PR, and what experience would you expect them to have?

- I also heard that regionals, wedding magazines, country life (ie: not the typically thought of Grazia/Vogue/Elle etc type) were actually the best in terms of translating to sales (if the price point is reasonable). Would it be ok to expect the fashion and beauty PR to cover these as well?

Sorry for all the questions... I've always said to myself we only want to do this if it can done right!

Thanks!!
Nathan

Hi Nathan

I am a PR consultant of 12+yrs experience (although in corporate & green lifestyle PR plus a bit of travel and food & drink).

I now work freelance and charge day rates of anywhere between £200 (for small local clients here in the SW) and £350+ for global corporate clients. I think the £360 a day you've been quoted is a bit rich although for an experienced freelancer you will certainly be looking at £250 per day plus for the sort of work you need.

I recommend you trawl Linked In for PRs who have experience in luxury lifestyle and fashion. A good freelancer is worth their weight in gold. You need someone with solid evidence of contacts in the right places, i.e. testimonials from journalists you can contact to verify. Contacts and knowing the target media inside out are far more valuable than resources like media databases and features lists.

If you cannot get a top quality freelancer who specialises in your field, you are worth going the agency route, with a specialist lux/fashion agency. Get them to do a really top dollar launch for you, but then look to hire a freelancer to do the ongoing PR post-launch. Take the agency on a project basis and do not get drawn into a retainer at this point. Then it is in their interests to go above and beyond the call of duty for the launch project in order to get more of your business.

Also you haven't mentioned social media? Whoever you hire, freelance or agency, needs to be all over this. Businesses can be built on social media alone these days and you must get this bit right. Your online brand personality and presence is critical. Some agencies and PRs still tackle social media as an 'add-on' but really it needs to be central in your strategy so whoever you hire needs to have white hot credentials here.

Good luck with it all! Happy to help with any other questions smile

FriendlyLadybird Mon 04-Nov-13 16:58:49

I've been doing PR for 20 years (not in your field) and I found that I am basically too expensive for most small businesses to hire me to do all their PR.

However, I do a small amount of work for some very canny clients who have worked out exactly where I can add value (strategy and creating and spotting stories mainly) and where they can either do things themselves or engage someone much cheaper. After all, agencies work on the basis that most of the work is done by the most junior (and cheapest) people they have, while the more senior and expensive people direct them.

I completely agree with everything that everyone else has said -- but offer this as an alternative approach for consideration. Buy a small amount of time from someone really, really good to develop your strategy and plan. Then use him or her as a sounding board and adviser while you get someone less experienced and cheaper to do most of the work.

WilsonFrickett Sat 09-Nov-13 18:30:50

Completely agree with friendly. Spend where it shows, ie strategy, launch, press contacts and find a cheaper way to do the rest. For eg, you can schedule your own tweets and fb posts, you don't need a PR person to do that - but you do need a pr person to help you work out what you want to say.

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