Maybe you’ve never hired a PR firm before, or maybe it’s been a while and you’re just unsure of what a PR agency costs. Either way, you’re asking yourself, “how much will a PR firm cost me?” Since PR usually falls within the marketing budget, let’s start there.

To grow your position in the marketplace, a good marketing allocation is about 15% of revenue. In 2022, the average marketing budget for B2C brands was 13.7% of revenue, and for B2B brands, it was about 10% of revenue.

So if you’re an average company, and you’re looking to maintain your position, you’re probably spending in the range of 10% of revenue. If you’re looking to dominate, your budget should be higher. Ambitious startups typically allocate between 12-17%. A typical breakdown might be that 1/3 of the budget is advertising, 1/3 of the budget is content, and 1/3 of the budget is PR. Large international agency budgets can be $380,000 or more annually, while a mid-range agency budget typically clocks in at $156,000-$180,000 annually and a smaller agency budget would be $120,000 per year, a mid-range freelancer could be anywhere from $36,000-$100,000 a year. If you’re a CPG or DTC brand with a marketing spend of under $100,000, then you might consider consumer product PR sprints, which feature micro contracts that align with key buying seasons. Hiring a PR agency is an investment, but considering PR converts ten to 50% better than advertising, PR is indeed a place where the ROI pays off.

 

So what goes into a PR agency’s fees?

 

According to Muck Rack’s 2021 State of PR report, the number one cost to a company to PR is the agency, which makes sense because unlike programmatic ad spending (a typical minimum is programmatic spend is $25,000/month), PR agencies rarely have a minimum spend or activation fee requirements outside their retainers.

PR agency rates increased, and in 2020, the average PR agency CEO billed $417 per hour, while VPs clocked in at $319 per hour and Account Managers billed $256 per hour. The average blended rate was $240 per hour. It’s safe to say that if your PR team has executive PR experience, and your agency spends an average of 10 person-hours per week on your account, your monthly retainer will be around $13,226 per month.

If you require more executive hours, your fees could go up. If you work mostly with a junior team, your rates could go down. Oftentimes, fees are different depending on your strategic objectives. For example, if you want to keep a firm on retainer for a few calls a month, and no proactive media outreach, your annual fees may be considerably less. If you are trying to secure investment or you’re pre IPO, you may find your fees are on the higher end of an agency’s fee structure.

It’s a balance to strike your budget with your goals, but when asked, I always give the same advice to CMO’s and startup founders. In 2020, 45% of companies increased their PR budget. If your budget is $400,000 or more per year, hire an agency that does $20 million+ in revenue. If your budget is $180,000 per year, hire a boutique PR firm, with less than $10 million in revenue. If your budget is $60,000 per year, don’t hire an agency, hire a freelancer.

Odwyer PR’s annual report shows rates increased considerably between 2019 and 2020, so if your agency didn’t raise its rates, you’re fortunate.

Agencies are notoriously reluctant to share minimum retainers, but in 2013, several agency executives did just that with PR Observer, an industry publication.

“To properly scope a client program and assign the proper team support, we feel $15,000 – $17,500 per month is a reasonable starting point.”Anne Green, President & CEO, CooperKatz & Company, Inc.

“Our retainers range from $7,500 – $50,000 or so. Crisis costs are different and generally charged by the hour with a $20,000 minimum.”—Ronn Torossian, Founder & President, 5WPR

“We have some clients that pay us $100,000 or so per year, some clients that pay us more than $100,000 per week, and many clients that pay us $100,000 or so per month.”— Mark Hass, President & CEO, Edelman United States

“Our clients generally pay between $15,000-$30,000 a month depending on the workload.”—Stu Loeser, Founder & President, Stu Loeser & Co.
So what’s typically included in a bespoke retainer rate? Well, again, that may depend on each agency’s specialty. For example, if your agency specialized in digital communications, you may find that social media content creation is included, but media relations are not. But the following services are a good rule of thumb to expect within our typical PR agency retainer:
  • Strategies about how to stand out from your competitors using PR
  • Internal and external communication strategies that match your growth goals.
  • Campaign development and creative activations for marketing opportunities.
  • Media relations, and securing regular media coverage, speaking engagements.
  • KPI and business impact reporting.
  • Copywriting such as press releases, speeches, white papers, and branded journalism.
  • PR crisis planning – but not necessarily crisis management.
  • Partnership strategy and potentially management such as cause, social impact, or purpose-driven PR initiatives.
  • Executive training, including media training, interview prep, and research or executive ghostwriting.
  • Content strategy for video, social media, and inbound leads.
  • Content creation oversight, including social media, photography sessions, and video development.
  • Poll or research development, implementing the poll may or may not be within the agency’s retainer.
  • Peer agency coordination, such as with branding or advertising agencies.
  • PR campaigns that “make the news,” are designed to create word-of-mouth or media opportunities.

For a complete list of what we would include in your PR retainer, reach out to us and tell us more about your business and your goals.

Hiring a PR agency is an investment, but considering PR converts ten to 50% better than advertising, PR is indeed a place where the ROI pays off.

Creating appropriate crisis communications strategies is necessary for any business, but this is especially true for a cannabis crisis. Whether it’s a recall, or a significant event hits the industry, cannabis companies must change how they handle potential problems that could challenge their success. This is especially true for CPG companies like cannabis brands who also have the additional risk of a cannabis recall.

 

The unexpected can happen at any moment. For example, the COVID-19 outbreak limited business operations and disrupted consumer spending habits. Airlines canceled flights, and hotels stopped accepting reservations. Everyone went into lockdown, and it affected companies in every job industry.

 

You need to have a solid plan in place before you face a cannabis crisis that can significantly affect the cannabis industry. Adequate preparation could prevent a decline in profitability while you’re dealing with a new normal. You must develop necessary communications to address scenarios you could encounter. Circumstances constantly change, and it’s crucial to be ready for anything.

 

You might need to establish multiple communications channels. You should create a hub and assign specific people to lead each group. Allow your chosen leaders to review and approve statements and consistently provide updates to executives.

 

Each staff member within the groups should have scripts they use to answer external and internal inquiries. They should also have a list of updated contacts, so they have access to people they need to communicate with.

In a Crisis: Prioritize Safety

 

Consumers want to know they’re safe whenever a crisis hits. During the coronavirus pandemic, companies put safety measures in place to protect their employees and customers from unnecessary exposure. When you run a cannabis business, you should ensure everyone’s safety at all times. Anyone walking into your store or buying your product needs to know they’re in an environment that won’t make them sick.

Your communications should address safety concerns. Anyone overseeing an internal employee should work with HR and legal teams to develop policies regarding sick leave, working shifts, office health, and telecommuting options during a crisis. You should also create a plan to approach conversations between managers and employees, so information flows seamlessly throughout the company.

Instruct groups handling communication with consumers to advise the protocols you follow regarding cleaning and health. Your customers should be aware of the maximum capacity in your stores and how your workers handle cannabis deliveries without putting others at risk.

Your website is essential for communicating with the public during a crisis. Update your page frequently to inform others of your company’s policies. Advise them of the steps you’re taking to address current issues and prevent further problems from arising.

Your customers should know you take their health and safety seriously during this challenging time. You’re not willing to place them in harm’s way when there’s a crisis. All the safety precautions you take are meant to protect you, your employees, and the public.

The team you designate to handle regulatory affairs will play a valuable role in your company. They can liaise with federal and state health officials to keep your business up to date on evolving safety protocols. The team should communicate regularly with officials and share accurate and detailed information with management and staff. They should also notify officials of what your company is doing to comply with the required regulations.

 

Impact of Cannabis as an Essential Business

Many states see the cannabis industry as essential. Instead of shutting down with other businesses when there’s a crisis, these companies can remain open. However, acquiring and maintaining the status of an essential business isn’t a guarantee for success. You must have a plan to respond to the local government’s regulatory agendas and address their concerns if you want to continue operating.

You can plan how you’ll communicate the essential nature of your product by discussing the medical needs of cannabis. Lobby for an essential status designation from the leaders in your area. Taking action now could prevent a crisis from negatively affecting your company in the future.

Employees in your PR and marketing groups can explain the medical and social benefits of cannabis to a large audience. They can show the public the importance of the cannabis industry and how it can help people navigate a crippling crisis, such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

Your media team can also inform reporters of your company’s philanthropic efforts. Some businesses donated hand sanitizer to healthcare workers to keep them safe and prevent the further spread of the virus. Journalists and news outlets can get the word out about your industry’s dedication to the well-being of residents within the community.

 

Don’t Forget About Your Investors

You must maintain frequent and ongoing crisis communications with anyone with financial interests in your company, such as investors and suppliers. Instruct your team to communicate with your suppliers regarding retail challenges and inventory shortages they might face. Try to come up with solutions to the problem before they happen, so you protect your retailer’s and supplier’s bottom lines.

 

Any investors you formed a relationship with should be aware of the steps you’re taking to resume normal business operations. Your team must identify essential business functions, such as supply chain services and critical jobs, that are necessary to continued operations with limited disruptions.

Your spokespeople must warn investors of potential disruptions to operating procedures. Your investors should also know about your plans for an emergency and how you’re going to recover once the crisis is over.

Streamlining your crisis communications strategy means you can successfully navigate any crisis you face. Review statements you make before releasing them to determine whether they reflect your company culture and the impact you have on your customers. The cannabis industry can overcome complex obstacles and thrive with strategic and effective communication plans.

 

Contact Us

 

Avaans Media is a top cannabis PR agency you can depend on to effectively manage your company’s brand and implement the appropriate strategies to gain new customers and grow your business.

Since 2008, our PR team has provided comprehensive services to clients in various industries. The cannabis business is unique but expanding rapidly. You need to keep up with your competitors, so they don’t leave you behind. Our team can spearhead your campaigns to improve your credibility and reputation within the market.

 

Contact us right now if you’re interested in discussing your needs with a trusted and knowledgeable PR firm with years of experience.

Is your cannabis brand prepared for a product recall? No one likes to talk about it, but it’s probably not a question of IF, but when. Anyone who has been around consumer products for any period can tell you: product recalls are a fact of life. But for cannabis brands, product recalls are intense because of the regulatory environment and the cost of operating as a cannabis brand. We recently handled crisis communications during a cannabis brand recall. It honored us to be chosen, but it’s never fun to see the immeasurable stress a recall puts on a brand.

Because the cannabis industry is new and highly regulated, and in some locations, a medicinal-only product, cannabis recalls ARE news. A cannabis recall will get local and potentially national media coverage. So, how should cannabis companies prepare for the inevitable recall? In short, these 3 steps will help you tremendously: learn, lean, communicate.

 

Learn the Recall Process From Your State Cannabis Regulatory Body

Because the cannabis industry is new, so are the regulatory bodies that oversee them. Keep in mind your cannabis regulation division may not even have staff members who have started a recall. Get ahead of it.

Ask your regulatory body what their process is for recall. Who will be your contact during a call? What will they need and expect from you? How and when will they inform you? What steps will they take to inform the public? What triggers a recall? Who will be audited in a recall (the brand, the testing facility, the retailer)?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you prepare internally. Plus, having an open and engaging relationship with the regulatory body will ease communications during the recall itself.

Lean into Industry Relationships

Ask your retail partners what their internal product recall processes are. The more you know about how they handle and store products, how they prepare their budtenders for product recalls, the better off you’ll be. Find out if you can collaborate with them on budtender communication and customer notification. Be transparent with your retailers about your process too. You should do the same for any other 3rd party in the supply chain: labs and distributors as well. If your product includes any 3rd party ingredients, then communicate with them too. Tell them who they can contact about questions if they’re doing internal planning.

Create a Crisis Communication Plan

Based on how a cannabis recall happens, preparing your internal steps is critical because you can either take the lead or be pummeled. At the very least, define the first 3 external communication steps your brand will take the moment it knows of a potential or actual recall. You should have a single spokesperson identified, while your supporting cast should know their roles and how you will handle the situation internally.

Create plans for at least two scenarios: one for if your processes and/or procedures are at fault, and one plan for if your processes and procedures are not in question.

At the minimum, you should have a statement to your retailers drafted already, as well as a social media post, an email to customers, and a statement for your website. Your spokesperson should undergo crisis communication training, in front of a camera. You can also have a shortlist of local and industry media outlets you will proactively reach out to during the recall to provide a media statement. Be prepared to be nimble during your crisis process and consider what you might do if there is very little coverage vs. a lot of coverage. Review this plan annually, and make sure everyone knows their role during a cannabis product recall.

 

No one likes to talk about cannabis product recalls. It sends a shiver down everyone’s back. But preparing for a recall helps take the sting out it. Contact us, we’re experts in cannabis PR firm if you need help creating a plan for a cannabis product recall.

Download our special report: Preparing for a Cannabis Recall

CYBER INCIDENT RESPONSE PLANNING FOR  SMALL AND MEDIUM BUSINESSES


Virtually every piece of advice you will hear about cyber security advises a cyber incident response plan. After all, do YOU know what you would do first if you discovered a cyber security attack, security breach, or ransomware?

What’s more – cyber liability insurance increasingly requires a cyber-attack incidence plan, and that usually stops small-to-mid-size companies in their tracks.

MOST cyber incident response plans are for technologists and ignore the reputational implications of a cyber attack. Questions like how will you tell your customers, and what should you say?

Enterprise organizations pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to have crisis PR teams, cyber security experts, and legal teams develop cyber-attack response plans. Your cyber-attack response plan can make the difference between staying in business and closing down.

Could your business survive an additional $1 million dollars to recover?

62%


of all cyber-attacks hit small and mid-sized businesses, about 4,000 per day.

source: IBM

83%


of business owners doesn’t have a contingency plan for dealing with security threats.

source: nationwide survey

60%


of businesses close after a data breach

source: Experian/Ponemon Institute Data Breach Study

28%


of businesses have cyber attack plan in place

source: CNBC/Momentive Small Business Survey

83%


of business owners handle their own cyber security

source: Endurance International Group Survey

26%


of businesses have cyber insurance

source: CNBC/Momentive Small Business Survey

43%


percentage of data breaches that are small businesses, making them target #1 for data breaches.

source: CNBC/Momentive Small Business Survey

Would you like to save your small business from tens of thousands of dollars in insurance premiums or millions of dollars in damage to your data and reputation?

Who This Is For: 

  • small and medium businesses without all three: full-time IT and PR teams.

  • businesses who want to take steps to limit cyber breach damage.

  • businesses who want to secure cyber liability insurance.


What this is:

  • An audit that reveals your strengths and vulnerabilities for a cyber attack and the aftermath.

  • a personalized plan and package, written in non-technical language to help you prevent or get you through the first 48 hours of a cyber breach.

  • documentation for your cyber incident insurance carrier, which may help you qualify for cyber incident insurance or reduce your rates.


What this is not:

  • this is not a crisis or emergency service for after you’ve had a cyber incident such as ransomware, cyber attack, or data breach.

  • this is not an incident response template.

Get Your Free 17-Point Assessment Today


Avaans has teamed up to bring you a very special offering for a small and medium business cyber incident response plan.

Our trio of cyber planning experts are ideally suited to analyze your cyber gaps and create a comprehensive small business cyber response plan.

Most crisis planning only covers one piece of the problem. Our plan unifies IT and PR, so your bases covered and ready.

Our personalized plan will prepare you for the inevitable and make sure your team is thoroughly prepared to take immediate action, mitigate damage, and maximize your cyber incident insurance coverage.

Tara Coomans, Crisis Communication Expert


A communications and PR professional, Tara has been working with hyper-growth and emerging industries in highly regulated segments for over a decade. From social media flare-ups to critical incident responses, Coomans has guided her clients through PR crises with an eye on brand and reputation management. Instead of focusing on responding to emergencies, Coomans specializes in the planning and preparation that helps avoid common crises for modern businesses.

Derek Gabriel, MSP CEO + Medium and Small Business Technology Consultant


For over 20 years, Derek has been the go-to expert for hundreds of small and medium businesses and nonprofits. Derek understands the unique software, hardware, and data concerns of medium and small businesses. Besides being a small and medium business IT subject matter expert, Derek has a deep understanding of data storage, data security, and the most modern best practices for cyber and malware protection.

A GLOBAL TOURISM DESTINATION TELLS SUSTAINABILITY STORY-GLOBALLY WITH PR & SOCIAL MEDIA

THE CHALLENGE

One of the world’s best-known visitor destinations seeks to unify its global social media story-telling by providing agencies representing the destination in Europe, Asia, North America and Pacific regions with best practices, guidelines, processes, and procedures which reflect the global nature of its social media communications.

The organization also needs insights on tracking successful social media campaigns, both organic and paid with KPIs which can be easily reported to stakeholders.

Global social media crisis communication systems and processes are also needed.

At the same time, maximizing resources and merging brand paid social media budget.

THE SOLUTION

Support development of social media KPIs, establish best practices, including user-generated content UGC policies and guidance regarding GDPR. We maintain communication with agencies in Hong Kong, China, New Zealand, Australia, UK, and Germany to ensure consistent on-brand storytelling in social media.

We also manage a global social ad campaign, with a sophisticated funnel, that reaches into 12 countries and is translated into 10 different languages or dialects.

GLOBAL REPUTATION MANAGEMENT


From copy to images and video our international social media oversight ensures the brand story is consistent across languages and platforms including WeChat, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.

ESTABLISH GLOBAL SOCIAL MEDIA KPIs


We identify, evaluate and maintain organic and paid social media KPIs across 12 different global markets. We watch for shifts and changes and make recommendations to partner agencies and brand based on trends or shifts.

ESTABLISH & MANAGE GLOBAL SOCIAL MEDIA AD CAMPAIGNS


In addition to developing successful advertising campaigns, we developed a system and a process to manage multiple languages and cultural touch points across campaigns.

SUPPORT CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS


We help build systems and processes to implement crisis planning to agencies around the globe for social media distribution. Additionally, we create and establish guidelines for agencies for confident brand communication during periods of crisis for their location.

ESTABLISH INTERDEPARTMENTAL COMMUNICATION CHANNELS


We help build systems and processes to implement crisis planning to agencies around the globe for social media distribution. Additionally, we create and establish guidelines for agencies for confident brand communication during periods of crisis for their location.

ESTABLISH SOCIAL MEDIA GUIDELINES


From crisis management to content and branding, our team develops guidelines and training for agencies around the globe. We also support the organization with recommendations on important changes including GDPR, FTC Influencer Guidelines, and User Generated Content (UGC)

THE PR SUCCESS RESULTS

494%


Increase in social brand reach

494%


Increase in social brand reach

91%


Increase in social media brand engagement

25% 


Action rate on paid social website click campaigns.

133.6% 


Action rate on paid social video view campaigns

100.4% 


Overall action rate on paid social ad campaigns.

PR WITH PURPOSE


A modern digitally forward agency that combines emotional intelligence with strategy and data to enhance reputations and credibility. From startup to IPO, we build brand value. We’re a team of big thinkers with an eye for detail. We dive straight into your purpose to find the connective tissue your clients or customers respond to. We’re fiercely protective of your reputation, tenacious in securing press coverage, and nimble enough to service the needs of growing businesses.

SERVICES

PUBLIC RELATIONS

CONTENT STRATEGY

REPUTATION MANAGEMENT

BRANDED JOURNALISM

CONTENT DEVELOPMENT

MEDIA RELATIONS

WORD OF MOUTH ACTIVATIONS

PAID STRATEGY + EXECUTION

CRISIS & REPUTATION RISK

CAUSE PARTNERSHIPS

CONTENT AMPLIFICATION

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY COMMUNICATIONS

CONSUMER & MARKETPLACE RESEARCH

COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT

EXECUTIVE POSITIONING

EVENT MARKETING

SOCIAL MEDIA VIDEO & PHOTOGRAPHY

PRODUCT LAUNCHES

STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS

PR AREAS OF PRACTICE

NONPROFITS

PROFESSIONAL SERVICES

BUSINESS TECHNOLOGY

GOVERNMENT