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.

Because of the competitive nature of customer acquisition, hyper-growth DTC (D2C) brands are always looking for ways to improve word of mouth and awareness. So it’s no surprise that a lot of fast-growing DTC brands of all sizes are asking, “should we join the metaverse?” The answer to should DTC brands join the metaverse naturally depends on several external factors. From an awareness and PR perspective, there are some considerations before DTC brands joining the metaverse.

What Have You Learned From Watching Other Brands?

Brands like Nike, Warner Brothers, Gucci, and Wendy’s are already in the metaverse. Have you watched these brands closely and experienced their ventures? CMOs and founders intrigued by the metaverse and its opportunities should be sure to sit back and watch a bit. What worked, what didn’t? What inspiration can you take from these digital experiences? Notice many of these ventures are co-branded, which is a great way to double the potential audience size – so what partnerships would enhance the digital introduction of your DTC brand? Gamers are already intimately familiar with NFTs and Virtual goods, so what games appeal to your audience? From breakfast cereal to gaming super powers to fashion add-ons there truly are endless ways for DTC brands to join the metaverse.

Have You Tried Virtual Goods Yet?

46% of consumers haven’t bought a virtual good yet because they don’t understand how it works and 35% might try it if it comes from a brand they trust (full report here). Those two considerations are a lot to unpack. But if your customers are curious early adopters, AND they trust your DTC brand, a great way to test the waters is to experiment with virtual goods (NFTs) like music, memes, or even artwork.

If your customers are curious, but midrange adopters, maybe you set the stage and start educating your consumers a bit, adding to that trust bucket so when the day comes for your brand to fully invest, your customers are ready to come on the journey with you. . The key to intriguing your customers to start their virtual good collection is to pair it with another passion or interest. Virtual goods like avatars or virtual event tickets are easy enough to understand to most consumers, even if they aren’t ready to use them or engage with them yet.

There’s a tremendous value in being the trusted brand that takes your customers by the hand to introduce them to the digital landscape that will make social media look like a flash in the pan.

What Will You DO Once You Get to the Metaverse?

With something like the metaverse, the end goal isn’t to BE there, it’s to activate there. Given that for most consumers, the metaverse is just some vague notion they don’t know how to even access, you’ll need to take stock of where this lands on your priority list. If your customers aren’t in the 18-34 age range of typical NFT purchasers, then this is a pretty big consideration.

Now, if your only goal is to be an early mover, and you have the bandwidth, that is the financial and team resources to do so, by all means, go for it, it’s an interesting brand move right now and it may even get you some press. Media coverage over brands with placement in the metaverse won’t garner attention for long – the metaverse will be as common as having a website and social media. And yet, even now, simply being in the metaverse itself doesn’t garner media attention. You’ll want to activate in some interesting, notable way. The options are endless, but keep in mind that your audience is likely to be small, but starting with a metaverse experience is a great way for the brand and its customers to connect in the virtual world.

 

The “Ready Player One” vision of the metaverse isn’t quite here yet. For one, adoption hasn’t reached a tipping point yet, but it won’t be long. Today’s consumers are now used to moving into new platforms every few years and the metaverse will follow a similar trend of other platforms: younger people will start, but soon their parents will follow, then their parent’s friends. Instagram was the domain of the youthful for a long time, then its users expanded; for TikTok that process was much faster some of the most vibrant TikTok hashtags belong to GenX, and they’re in their 50’s already. The metaverse is coming, tomorrow’s brand will be there.

As a digitally forward PR firm, we can help you maximize the digital world. Give us a call. 

Sara Blakely didn’t become one of the most admired female CEOs without taking her public image seriously. Blakely credits her publicity-savvy approach to her grass-roots success that launched a billion-dollar exit.

Sara Blakely became notable for being one of three female founders to exit in 2021. In 2012, she made headlines as one of the first female billionaires when Spanx was valued at over $1 billion, because she retained 100% ownership, had zero debt, and to that point had never spent a dollar on advertising. Blakely wasn’t lucky. She is smart and from the start, dialed into earning trust and word of mouth. Blakely was so PR savvy she patented Spanx early because she saw it as a marketing lever. She knew actions can translate to media coverage. Consistently, Blakely refined and perfected three key strategies she credits to her success.

Tell Your Story Relentlessly



One thing Sara Blakely did immediately is take control of her own narrative. Sara knew: if you don’t tell your story, someone else will.

CEOs who take a personal interest in their brand’s success always generate better coverage. Blakely never took the “fake it before you make it” stance in the press. She took her failures and turned them into stories about resilience. Her career-focused and ambitious customers could relate to her humble fax-machine sales beginnings. Blakely famously said she’s “game for anything,” and it’s the company who has to reign her in.

Blakely celebrates her female strengths, recently claiming she ran the business from “intuition, vulnerability, and empathy,” which recently led to an acquisition by private equity firm Blackstone in November 2021.

From the start, Blakely refined her story, kept it authentic, and told it over and repeatedly. She never deviated from her why, and she never glossed over speed bumps or failures. That’s why, despite her elite success, women the world over related to Blakely. Her approachability gives her another lever to pull, she can celebrate her wins and women celebrate with her.

 

The Not-So-Overnight Success of Product Placement

“We always had PR and grassroots marketing at the forefront of what we did. It was getting the word out any way we could: speaking engagements, sampling,” said Spanx CEO Laurie Ann Goldman.

In the halls of famous breakthroughs, The Oprah Effect is perhaps one of the most celebrated. With Spanx, when Oprah included them on her list of favorite things, for many women, it was the first time they’d heard of the product. But Sara Blakely had been sending celebrities, stylists, and female icons Spanx samples from the very beginning, and she wasn’t cheap about it. Blakely sent full gift baskets, with enough product to make sure every celebrity had enough to get through the week, no matter how intense their appearance calendar was. By the time Gwyneth Paltrow said on the red carpet that Spanx was her post-baby-body secret in 2003, Spanx was already a well-known insider secret. “Word of mouth and the media are so much more powerful and believable, so that’s the route I went,” said Blakely.

Blakely knew: place your product consistently, earn the trust of celebrity influencers, and it pays off. It looks like an overnight success, but in fact, Blakely had been doing product gifting for years, and she did it with class.

 

Absolute Customer Clarity

Blakely knew: if you’re for everyone, you’re for no one. When she first started sending celebrity gift baskets, she targeted Oprah because she was open about her weight challenges, and Kim Kardashian because of her famous booty. Despite her success in famous retailers, direct-to-consumer sales are at the heart of the Spanx expansion, making up 70% of its sales, which means Spanx has to develop deep relationships with their target customers.

If you look at Spanx coverage over the years, Blakely was disciplined about keeping to her “why.” Customer clarity allows Blakely to stay focused on her “why,” which is a much more appealing story than a product story.

Blakely’s approachable voice is another key to the brand’s relatable success – she talks to her consumer the way they talk with their friends, from packaging to interviews, she just gives us enough to relate to her. Even her extravagances seemed relatable to her target market. You never hear about Blakely’s car or vacation homes. Instead, you hear about relatable splurges like when she bought Olivia Newton John’s Grease outfit; clothing her target market clearly remembers, and one that showcases a spectacular derriere.

Employing these three CEO publicity strategies doesn’t guarantee a billion-dollar business, but it does guarantee that you will get noticed. Everyone from consumers to venture capitalists and private equity firms like to know there’s a story there, and potential for brand affinity. The Spanx brand couldn’t have become so iconic without these three remarkable publicity strategies.

This contribution originally appeared on Entreprenuer.com

Hyper growth DTC brands appear to have some things in common. If you’re a DTC brand or the CMO of a DTC brand, the future looks bright. We also wanted to connect a few dots about emerging industries we think are going to be increasingly important.

  1. Average Order Value (AOV) is a Key Indicator of Hyper Growth DTC

    RetentionX has discovered the fastest growing DTC brands have a 55% higher AOV than everyone else. They attribute this high AOV to customer loyalty. Customer loyalty is a holistic and multi-discipline objective.

    But this is where DTC PR really shines.

    Brand loyalty comes from trust. Trust in the product and trust in the brand values. If you’re the CMO or founder of a DTC brand, customer loyalty is your key KPI for revenue growth. One strategy for increased customer loyalty is premium branding, and PR delivers. According to Morgan Stanley’s research, Apple’s premium DTC branding came through a sustained PR campaign that helped deliver  90% brand retention.

  2.  Voice Search: DTC’s Premier Opportunity

    55% of American households own a smart speaker in 2022, according to Juniper research. And according to Navar, slightly more than half of consumers use voice-activated search for things like groceries, and by 2030, the global AI-based and voice recognition market should reach $27.3 billion (insightSLICE).

    Voice activation is likely to take advantage of a multitude of signals, just like SEO. A great start, if you haven’t already gotten there, is making sure your product FAQs include “how,” “why,” and “what” questions. The type of questions your buyers are likely to ask in various stages of product consideration.

    While you’re at it, look at Google’s Review requirements, because these types of reviews are likely to play into voice search, at least on Google. From a trust perspective, combining your owned content with trusted third-party reviews is a home run. Also, remember the added benefit of media coverage is stickiness – what Google can count on when creating its interpretation of your online reputation, which will undoubtedly play into your voice-activated reputation as well.

  3. Partnerships For the Win

    From collabs to join placement and pop-ups and the metaverse, DTC brands can double their exposure by partnering on campaigns. These campaigns can get a huge amount of lift from PR initiatives like media relations and events.

    Forgetting the PR component of these opportunities really misses the chance to secure customer retention and new acquisition. While social media, especially social advertising, is a must-have for DTC brands, DTC brands can look at the PR around partnerships as an opportunity to decouple their dependence on social media.

Despite the challenges for cannabis brands, social media is important to them.

In 2005, just 5% of American adults were on at least one social media platform. By 2020, that number had risen to 72%. And as social media has become a ubiquitous part of modern life, social media marketing has, in many ways, become a virtual version of the storefront. It is vital to the success of retail operations in the United States.

However, the booming cannabis industry cannot capitalize on social media marketing the way that others can. Because cannabis has still not been legalized at the federal level, major social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter, and LinkedIn all limit cannabis companies’ ability to promote their product on social platforms. Each platform has a specific policy in place that limits the efficacy of cannabis marketing online.

Many cannabis companies and cannabis-adjacent companies have had their profiles deactivated and pages deleted without notice by various platforms, and still others have their ad accounts shut down when they try to post a promotional ad for their products.

This ultimately costs each business money and customers and reduces their visibility and reach online. Social media platforms police these businesses and the content they post, and it’s not unheard of for a company to alert the platforms’ administrators to a competitor’s post as an underhanded way to reduce the impact of their advertising.

But while cannabis brands face and will likely continue to face specific challenges in advertising their product until it is legal at the federal level, there are still ways that they can advertise themselves while operating within social media platforms’ stated parameters. Let’s take a look at some of the ways cannabis companies can appeal to the hundreds of millions of people on social media without risking deplatforming.

Traditional Advertising

While you can definitely still make use of social media advertising, you will need to tread carefully to ensure that you are not in violation of any of the platforms’ policies, which vary from service to service.

One possible loophole to the platforms’ blanket moratorium on cannabis advertising is to publish ads that are for educational purposes. By ensuring that the ad is not promotional and doesn’t link to a promotional page, you will have improved the chances that your ads will be approved by the powers that be. There are, obviously, limits to the effectiveness of an ad that doesn’t actually advertise, and you’ll need to get creative for it to be effective.

However, even if your ads are educational and created for advocacy purposes, Facebook could still try to shut down your ads account or your business page. They may argue that even though your ads were merely meant to be educational, they still promote cannabis use.

At the end of the day, ads are an option, but you must exercise extreme caution. Most cannabis companies do not have much success with traditional advertising on social media platforms, and the few that do are in an extremely fortunate minority.

Educational and Valuable Content

In order to develop your unique brand online, you should publish content that your target audience will value. Your focus should be on educational content that could be useful to your customers, rather than on promotional content.

Share useful data with your target audience and indirectly promote your brand through videos, posts, articles, and more that help bring visibility to your brand but don’t violate social media policies. Even customers of businesses that are permitted to post promotional content regularly post other types of content, including educational content, as most customers don’t want to follow companies who only promote their products and offer little that is informational or otherwise useful.

Engagement

Instead of focusing on promotion, you should focus on engaging with your current customers and your new potential customers. Don’t post information about your products or price info. Don’t publish any content that shows customers interacting with your products. Instead, concentrate on creating content that won’t violate the platform’s policies.

There are many types of engaging and entertaining content that can instill brand loyalty in your customers, such as tutorials, infographics, behind-the-scenes content at your place of business, and more. When consumers interact with this type of content, it puts a proverbial face to your name, increasing their trust in your brand, and helping them get to know your business better.

Earned Media Attention

One of the most important social media advertising opportunities for cannabis companies is earned media attention. When individuals share content that you published in other forums, on other social media platforms and elsewhere, you earn social media attention. And unlike running ads that may go against platform policies and get your page shut down, this publicity is entirely free. Generating word of mouth is one of the very best ways to bring in new customers.

The content that people talk about and are excited to share is content that is entertaining, informative, and authentic.

Some ways to generate this shareable content is through:

  • Blogging – If you are in the cannabis business, you should absolutely maintain a regular blog. Draft interesting blogs and then share your blog posts to your social media platforms so that your audience can easily find and share your blog content. Select topics that you think your audience will care about and remember to keep it educational and informative rather than promotional.
  • Videos – Blogs, of course, require consumers to engage with the written word. Many people prefer a visual format, which is why videos are such a great way to reach your target audience. In fact, if you have the resources, you could turn your blogs into video blogs for those who prefer to watch rather than read. You can also share video content across various social media platforms, from Facebook and Twitter to YouTube and Instagram. You might consider using videos to interview important individuals in the cannabis industry, educate your audience on the many different beneficial compounds found in cannabis besides the well-known THC, and advocate for the federal legalization movement.
  • Podcasts – Finally, you can use podcasts to promote your brand and reach your audience. Grab some recording equipment and use one of the numerous free apps to create your own podcast. Use the podcast to do an audio version of your blog, or to conduct interviews with influencers in the industry or activists who are leading the fight to legalize cannabis at the federal level. And of course, share that content across all of your social platforms.

If you run a cannabis business, it can be an uphill battle trying to leverage social media tools to promote your products online. But there are still ways that you can reach your target audience and increase engagement through these platforms.

Contact Avaans Media

If you are interested in learning more about how to use social media to your advantage as a cannabis business, or are seeking assistance building your brand, look no further than Avaans Media, recognized as a top cannabis PR agency. Our team has the experience and skills to help you develop a strong brand and increase your customer engagement through social media marketing. Contact us today to find out more.

One of the biggest mistakes that consumer packaged goods companies make is assuming that consumers are only interested in shallow, colorful, brightly designed packages. Consumers care about who makes their products and where they come from. Setting yourself apart in the crowded CPG market is about more than making a good visual impression. Loyalty and brand recognition come from carefully curating your image and making a connection with your target audience in a meaningful and positive way.

Hiring a purpose-driven PR firm can help hone your message to consumers. This type of firm can also place your message in strategically valuable media outlets to get a foothold in a competitive marketplace. Navigating these strategic PR campaigns can be labor-intensive. An experienced PR firm can provide the professional support you need for brand growth and visibility. Investing in a PR agency with CPG experience may be the right move for you, especially in today’s economic climate and competition.

What are CPGs?

CPG, or consumer packaged goods, are products that are consumed by customers regularly and require routine replacement. These types of goods generally have a short shelf life. CPGs include food items, clothing, makeup, cosmetic products, and household goods. The market may feel dominated by big-name brands with extensive marketing teams at their disposal. However, now is the right time for emerging brands to take advantage of PR to increase their brand awareness and visibility.

CPGs and Consumers

Consumer packaged goods companies are one of the largest manufacturing employers in the U.S. The industry itself contributes nearly $2 trillion to U.S. gross domestic product and generates $1.1 trillion in labor income. What does this mean for the industry itself? It means the industry is not only profitable but also highly competitive. Brands are consistently competing for the attention and the hard-earned dollars of everyday Americans. When store shelves are saturated with products, brand recognition becomes an important factor in relation to consumer buying habits.

Consumers buy brands they recognize and trust. This relationship between the brand and the consumer does not happen overnight. It develops over time through carefully crafted messages aimed at the right audience. Once a consumer develops brand awareness, they are more inclined to continue buying the product they know the most about. Good companies will continue to foster their relationship with consumers by the following approaches:

  • Staying in touch with their needs
  • Managing expectations
  • Generating targeted messages aimed at increasing consumer loyalty

Companies can adapt and market towards their target consumer base by keeping a finger on the pulse of consumer awareness and buying habits.

How PR Can Help CPG Companies

Any economy can experience supply chain issues, rising costs, and product shortages. These issues rarely leave a positive impression on the consumer. The rise of social media has shown us that misinformation or negative sentiments can quickly sour an individual’s image of a brand or company. As misinformation spreads, so do negative consumer responses. Now more than ever, companies need to take a proactive approach to communicate with consumers. PR firms can help CPG companies achieve their communication goals by leveraging their influence with media outlets and crafting stories that positively resonate with their audience.

Public relations agencies specialize in helping their clients generate and distribute information about their business. Public relations is sometimes lumped under the marketing umbrella. While the two share similar goals, they are not the same. Public relations agencies know how to leverage free media, which does not cost a company anything to distribute, unlike paid ads or spots.

PR firms can be crucial in helping CPG companies create purpose-driven, helping to increase brand recognition. Brand recognition helps companies stand out from the crowd and sets them apart from their competition. PR firms can also assist with story placement in local news, newspapers, magazines, and national news organizations, letting customers know that you are out there in the marketplace. With strategic PR campaigns, brand awareness grows and can translate into more sales. With continued PR saturation, what was once brand recognition turns into brand loyalty. One-time customers turn into repeat customers, and sales may continue to rise.

Another benefit of using a PR firm for free media is credibility. Consumers know that when a company pays money for a commercial, billboard, or web banner, they are looking at a carefully crafted image designed to get them to spend their money on the product. PR agencies work strategically to place stories in free media. Free media adds an air of credibility to a company because the company did not directly pay to get its message to the consumer. For example, a story airing on a local news station about a company’s recent good deeds in the community can give the company both brand recognition and credibility.

A skilled public relations firm with experience in the consumer packaged goods industry should be able to help you reach your goals by:

  • Increasing visibility and credibility
  • Increasing brand recognition and brand awareness
  • Strengthening customer relationships and building brand loyalty
  • Generating positive word of mouth
  • Building community relationships
  • Reducing repetitional risk
  • Meeting consumers communication needs

Strategically crafted public relations campaigns can help a CPG company connect with its target audience in more meaningful ways. Building an emotional connection between a consumer and a company is powerful. This connection can eventually translate into more sales and more repeat business for your CPG company.

During difficult times, the first thing that companies often cut from their budgets is marketing or PR. Right now, PR and marketing are the last elements of business that should be on the chopping block. The time is ripe to get your message out to invested consumers desiring authentic and sincere communication. Take this opportunity to connect with your consumer base on a deeper, more intentional level and see how it translates into a better consumer-client relationship.

If you are interested in what a PR agency can do for your CPG business, now is the perfect time to explore your options.