The Dental Council regulator has made it mandatory for dentists to list the cost of procedures, from Xrays and extractions, to crowns and root canal treatment. In March this year the Irish Medical Organisation recommended that all GPs should introduce itemised price lists.
But put a call in to the governing body of my profession, the Public Relations Institute of Ireland and ask them how much a PR agency should charge for a campaign and they will shrug their shoulders, raise their hands to the heavens and say it’s up to the agencies themselves to decide.
I think it is high time for the public relations industry in Ireland to name its price.
I have long believed that the PR business model has served the client in the Irish market poorly.
In a similar vein to the UK, clients are expected to sign retainers – essentially money for jam – frequently tying them to their PR company for a minimum period of six months to a year. The PR firm sells this on the basis that they need to plan out the year’s activities, ensure they deliver on them as scheduled, look for opportunities on an ongoing basis and respond to extra activities as they come up, which they always do.
These are of course laudable courses of action for the PR firm to perform, but why should the client pay for them?
And let’s be honest, these activities might merit a small retainer in larger markets, such as the US or the UK, but in Ireland, which is about the same size as the state of Indiana, with a population about 7% of the UK, it does not make economic sense.
What if the unthinkable happens and the PR firm doesn’t deliver what they promised, does the client get their retainer back? Not likely and the company may have to struggle on under the terms of their contract or pay a hefty penalty to get free so it can choose to work with a more suitable PR agency.
A much better model for the client, is to agree a results-based service and to encourage the PR firm to invoice each month for those targets that are achieved, with all the fees outlined up front. And no long term contracts and no retainers. They should have gone out with the Celtic Tiger.
Under this system, the company will have much better control over their budgets, as they can determine at the beginning of the engagement what their maximum outlay for public relations will be. And they will be paying real rewards for real results.