How Much Does a PR Firm Cost?

April 18, 2023 | Amanda Green

We answer this question several times daily. Our response is always the same. “Well, that depends…” There really is no one-size-fits-all in PR. Costs can vary widely. So, in order to determine a PR firm cost for your company, you must first understand what you hope to accomplish through PR. That’ll help determine the necessary scope of work, the complexity of the project, time requirements, and the type of firm you’ll need to hire. Let’s dive in: 

Types of PR Campaigns

Brands hire PR firms for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes they want to build general brand awareness, share exciting company news, build their authority in a tough-to-crack industry, drive media traffic to their booth at a trade show, or possibly make a big splash in seasonal gift guides. There are different types of PR campaigns and this will impact the overall cost. 

A brand looking to build general brand awareness for a new product launch, for example, should expect to pay less than a brand that needs to target very niche publications in a specific industry. Those more niche campaigns involve more strategy, time, and research. 

How PR Firms Charge Their Clients 

Monthly retainers at a large PR firm can easily run between $5,000-$10,000 per month (sometimes more).  The “coastal” agencies are known for charging top dollar. Think NY, LA, or San Francisco.

Boutique agencies can be more affordable but you have to do your research. You really want an experienced team because an agency is essentially two things: its collective brainpower and its collective Rolodex. We’ve heard stories about clients going with an agency that has very junior, inexperienced people working on an account under a supervisor who is not involved in the day-to-day pitching and coordinating. At Orca, that does not fly. Every publicist has a long breadth of experience, many of them came right out of media backgrounds adding another dimension of knowledge to the inside workings of press placements and how to get them.

The monthly retainer practice is the most common way PR firms operate and there is a good reason for this: PR takes time! You have to plant the seed and water the garden or else it won’t grow. Consistent communication is one of the keys to success! Having a retainer model in place ensures that the client is committed to seeing a campaign through from start to finish.

That said, there are other methods of working with PR firms. Some PR firms may charge a project-based fee. This might work for someone who needs PR support for an experiential marketing campaign, for example. Or for someone who may want to do PR for a short period to conduct outreach for a tradeshow. 

Freelancers or small firms may charge an hourly fee rather than a retainer. We’ve also seen agencies who charge a pay-for-play model. Although this is risky for PR since success can look so different to different companies. 

Be sure to ask about any additional fees before working with a PR firm. Common extra expenses include media distribution/newswire fees and travel expenses. Clients should also factor in the cost of product samples they’ll need to send to interested media outlets. Some agencies may also charge extra for printer fees, media monitoring, and more. Be sure to ask what potential expenses could come up throughout a campaign. 

Orca’s Tiers of Service 

Orca Communications Tiers of Service
Orca Communications

At Orca Communications, we’ve created different tiers of service to fit varying budgets and needs. Our tiers are Pod, Bronze, Silver, and Gold

The Pod & Bronze tiers are product-focused campaigns designed with the entrepreneur/small business owner in mind. We use our group pitching style to generate broad brand awareness across a variety of media outlets. 

Our Silver and Gold tiers offer more personalized, strategic PR outreach and are better for brands that have specific press goals and targets to reach. These higher tiers also focus on storytelling and work well for brands that have multiple stories to share with the media. 

What a PR Budget Looks Like

You likely came to this page looking for solid numbers and the reality is that there simply isn’t a one-size-fits-all figure that answers the question of ‘how much does a PR firm cost?’ Rates can vary widely, but you do need to have a healthy PR budget in place that consists of at minimum a few thousand dollars as a small business startup. Larger more established brands and brands with a complex product and/or message should expect to pay more. 

We work with companies of all sizes and budgets and would gladly talk you through what a PR campaign might cost you.