What Does it Cost to Hire a Publicist or Digital Marketing Consultant?


If you are an individual or a small business, the question of what does it cost to hire a publicist or digital marketing consultant is an important one.  If you are just looking for an intern to post for you on Facebook and Instagram and you aren’t in need of a professional strategist, plan, campaign, etc., then this may be more than you need.  If you are investing in your business, career, product launch, or all of the above, then read on.

Several years ago I wrote a blog about hiring a publicist and it continues to generate traffic and interest.  Although the goals of these jobs are the same, the tools we use and the way we go about getting the job done has changed.  Instead of becoming less demanding as a result of a shrinking traditional media landscape, our jobs have grown.  In order to be successful we have to grow communities, sell to target audiences, conduct events virtually and in person, and get press attention every time we hit a goal.   The cost to hire a publicist or marketing consultant is going to be based on the level of experience of the person/team and the amount of time your project is going to take.  The more experience, skills, and services you want, the larger the budget.

What Does it Cost to Hire a Digital Marketing Consultant

I specialize in individualized brands, which include authors, experts, academics, thought leaders, and specialists of any kind.  Most of these people develop their images on social media in order to gain the credibility they need to sell something or be featured in the mainstream media.  The best way to do this these days is through social media.  There are so many firms out there offering social media services it is very difficult to know what to pay or what you should get.  Here are a few services to look at when you are deciding who to hire:

Plan and Strategy: Whether you are already on social media and are not getting the results you want, or you are completely new to this world, a strategy and plan are important.  A lot of people will worry about posting more and creating cool content without understanding how much their efforts are achieving.  You need to know that in order to make a difference and accomplish your goals.  Firms that offer these services should be spending at least four to six weeks working on your plan and strategy and additional time teaching you how to implement it.  The cost: $10,000 – 20,000.

Monthly Content Development and Posting:  This job requires a range of things from writing blogs to designing graphics and composing posts on multiple platforms.  It will require materials from you including photos, boilerplate copy for your business, and any slogans you use.  Video content can come from you directly in the form of single, in-person commentary, or be developed further by your marketing team.  This may also include running ads.  Posting will include a content calendar, scheduling, and analysis.  The range of costs: $600/month for a single campaign on one platform – $2,500+/month on multiple platforms.  The cost is dependent on the number of platforms and the amount of content that needs to be produced and scheduled.

What Does it Cost to Hire a Publicist?

I’m sure if you are Lady Gaga you are spending many thousands a month to have a PR team run your brand.  At that level you have someone listening and monitoring your brand on social media, planning, posting, blocking press and news stories, granting interviews, and more.

For our purposes, we are going to stick with a more general level of service and cost.  Again, there are many service options and people who offer them.  I differentiate them in a couple of ways “plug n’ play” and “customized campaigns”.

“Plug n’ Play”: These services are usually very reasonable, but they are limited.  If you are looking for someone to accomplish a part of the job for you, like offering a list of media contacts or pitching a set number of outlets, this would work for you.  The costs: For a limited campaign or service: $hundreds to purchase lists; $5000+ to be pitched to a specific list of contacts and scheduled for reviews or interviews over a short period of time (6 – 14 weeks).

Customized Campaigns: A campaign like this could involve regional and national media, bloggers, influencer targetting, event planning, national media, and speaking engagements.  Depending on whoever else is on your team it could also involve social media and brand management and marketing.  If you are looking for long term public relations for yourself and your brand the costs are usually set monthly for a contracted period.  If you are planning a single product launch or book launch then the campaign is usually set up as a “project” and charged accordingly.  The costs: $3,500 – 5,000/month for a retainer/contract, $20,000+/project.

Whether you are looking to grow your brand, business, or product, it is important to have a plan and a way to execute it.  Hiring an expert is an investment.  Being informed about the services and costs will help you determine what you will pay to have done and what you will do on your own.

Marketing is Not Public Relations

 

Right away I am going to lay it out there to say that these two practices are not the same and the line is not blurring.  Marketing and public relations are not becoming one discipline and I am going to tell you why.

Marketing is not Public Relations

According to the American Marketing Association, Marketing is defined as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”   Your strategies and objectives in marketing are ideally supposed to lead to a sale of something that has “value for customers”.  Public relations is “the art or science of establishing and promoting a favorable relationship with the public, ” according to Yahoo.  I prefer to say it like this: pr is about getting the word out through appropriate messaging across many channels.  First, you create the story or message you want to broadcast, and then, via traditional and digital media, you propagate the information.

It is clear that by definition these two are not the same in terms of their intentions and outcomes.  It is also easy to see why people get confused.  But the issue is not about either discipline.  It is about the tools we use to do the job.

No Digital PR?

A bunch of years ago everything became digital and digital marketing was born.  Was there an equivalent in the public relations world? No digital pr?  This is where the problem started when marketers began thinking they were pr experts and vice versa.  In actuality, the functions of marketing and public relations are what they have always been, with the exception that we all need to know how to function effectively in a digital world.

We need to know how to tweet, post, use hashtags, analyze our efforts, and create opportunities to build relationships.  The difference between marketing and pr here is that marketing wants to bring in a paying customer, whereas public relations is trying to create an image, impression, or relationship.  When pr has built the audience and forged the relationships then marketing comes in for the kill to get that product sold.  Public relations is a craft about words and pictures that tell a story about a brand.  Marketing wants you to buy that brand, go to that concert, rent that hotel room, etc.

Company/Individual = Product

Recently I came across an article that substantiates my point:   In it, the writer, a pr person, was discussing the travel industry and rental properties.  She says there is more crossover between marketing and pr, but there is a very good reason why it looks that way.  She says, “as technology has connected not only us much more deeply with each department’s previously distinct audiences but also those audiences with each other, the line between marketing and PR has blurred. This is especially true in the vacation rental industry where the company is the product when you are recruiting new owners to your program.”

This does not mean that the line has blurred.  This is a result straight from the internet that has to do with “celebrity”.  It applies to artists, authors, musicians, and individually branded businesses.  Our society has a culture where your level of celebrity or fame equals the amount of influence you have.  When the person or entity behind the product is the public image, success becomes dependent upon that person’s relationship with an audience.  This is how it works: PR shapes the brand and image using messaging and imaging and then marketing joins in with advertising and direct mail to encourage a sale.  Did I say it already? Marketing and pr are not the same.

Working Together

What is absolutely true is that it has become even more important for marketing and pr to work together.  The problem is sometimes there is a turf war between the two.  Everyone wants to use the fun tools and tricks available in the digital marketing toolbox.  Fine.  There is more than enough work to go around.   We need to understand the differences in what we do so that we can work effectively to promote our people and products.  They say it takes a village, you know.

3 Simple Ways to Improve Your Social Media Efforts

Improve the effectiveness of your social media efforts

Well-established companies with bigger budgets are investing a significant amount of money in digital branding and social media.  With so many options, understanding your audience and using the best tools is very important to make you competitive at any level of business.  So, whether you are representing just yourself, a micro-business, or any size company, here are 3 simple ways to improve your social media efforts.

Tip #1: Where is Your Audience?

So much of the world is on social media. In 2019 they predicted that the U.S. population will spend more time on social media/mobile devices than on TV by the end of the year.  My analytics definitely show an uptick in mobile use, with a 50/50 ratio of people who read my content on mobile vs. other devices. Social media host a wealth of loyal niche communities. With clear messaging and focused branding, these communities can quickly become your repeat-consumers.

Find your audience

Tip #2: Should You Pay for Online Ads?

Like any promotional content on a popular medium, ads on social media can be pricey. Luckily, there is more to this strategy than paid advertisements. Channels like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat are one-stop shops. You can create your own original content in-house, free of charge. The average user is bombarded daily with big-budget marketing. In fact, 86% of people on social crave authentic content rather than expertly-crafted material from ad agencies. Stand out in the crowded market and create something to which your audience can authentically relate, without breaking the bank!

Tip #3: Do You Know Your Audience?

We’ve talked about the ways social media branding is useful, but how will you know it’s working? There is a way, and unlike mail surveys or television polls, you won’t have to wait weeks and months to see results. Simply start a poll on your desired outlet. The media mentioned above offer functions where you can pose a question with two or more answer options, and users can select their response. These polls can run for any length of time, from one day to one week. Once the poll closes, you instantly have your results – you can even see votes as they are happening.

Download our eGuide to social media so you can find ways to improve your social media effectiveness.

 

Getting from Goals to Tactics in Social Media Marketing

Working with a marketing group recently I realized that many people have a difficult time getting from goals to tactics in social media marketing.  The tendency we have is to set a goal and then reiterate the goal in different forms in the additional planning stages which are: Goals-Objectives-Strategy-Tactics.  I have learned that improper identification in each of these categories can:

a. have you running in circles trying to get to the goal.

b. cause tears of frustration because you spent hours with a team discussing your high arching goals and when you got back to your desk you realized that no one on the team has any idea of how you are actually going to achieve them.

c. cause you to give up on goal setting because, heck, the goal is to grow, right? Who cares how we get there?

Sound familiar?  Here is how I distinguish the categories, which makes it easier to understand the process of getting from goals to tactics in social media marketing.

What are Goals?

I’ve learned that goals are not specific.  I used to think increasing followers on a social account was a goal.  Wrong.  A goal is what you will achieve for your business/career/interest by increasing the follower count.  So the question to ask yourself is, what do you need or want to see happen in the future?  Are you looking to sell a product?  Start a workshop? Build a community around an issue to affect change?  These are your goals.

Business Objectives and Strategies

These steps are more quantifiable.  Let’s say my goal is to build revenue around a new product line for my business.  Right now I sell shoes and I want to add handbags as an additional sales stream.  The objective would be something more measurable such as selling an average of 10 handbags a week over the next eight weeks.

The strategy is about how you are going to sell those handbags.  Will it be a new promotion to current customers? An Instagram promotion with a branded hashtag?  Facebook Ads? Google Ads?  Are you selling online and in brick and mortar stores?  If so, you need to make sure your online promotion aligns with what you are offering in your stores. (It’s important that these things match so you don’t alienate any of your customer bases.)

 

Tactics are your To-Do List

The tactics are literally the things you will do on a regular basis to implement your strategy, meet your objective, and accomplish your goal.  In this case, if you want to use a strategy based on your marketing to your current customers with an exclusive sneak peek and sale, you might want to use these tactics:

  1. Send out an announcement to your current list about the new line and follow up for two weeks with teasers leading up to the “opening” to current subscribers.
  2. Start a Facebook group for Insiders or use another platform to curate your most dedicated customers and use a campaign similar to your email marketing to capture people who don’t open their emails regularly.

Each goal may have more than one objective and/or strategy that you want to use.  You need to list your tactics for each one as specifically as possible so you know how you are going to get what you are aiming for.  For an introduction to different social platforms and how to use them, download our eguide.

Back-to-School

I recently enrolled in a Master of Science program in Digital Marketing after years (ahem) of marketing and selling across all platforms (terrestrial and cyber) and multiple industries.  I have always been skeptical of what you can gain from an advanced degree when you have a lot of applied experience.  Well, for this lesson, my big educational moment is about reinforcing the process and its importance.

I lean toward the creative category of business persons.  Although I am also very good at execution and management, I have a lot of ideas.  When you are working in a marketing discipline ideas and follow-through are great.  But you need to be clear about what you are doing or you could waste time.

I have found that this style of structured and disciplined planning makes it much easier to manage and quantify progress.  I suppose in the internet age of marketing “old dogs” really can and must always learn new tricks.

 

CoVid 19 Lingo: Spin or Substance?

As a communications expert in the midst of the CoVid 19 pandemic and the news, I have noticed and sometimes worry, about the buzz words and language used to describe our situation.  Are words and phrases like the “new normal”, “unprecedented times”,  and “social distancing” meant to placate the masses and give us meaning when everything seems out of control? Did the federal and state governments hire the same public relations company?  Is CoVid lingo spin or substance people?! Rather than toss all of this around I decided to do a bit of research on the phrases mentioned above to get an idea of where they came from and what they mean for the future.

Social Distancing

One of my big “aha” moments came from a New York Times article about the history of “social distancing”.  I highly recommend you check it out because these words tied together are not an accident.  They represent a policy first put together by the George W. Bush administration to be used in the case of a pandemic.  Apparently, the Avian Flu (bird flu) and 9/11 motivated Bush to figure out a bio-terrorism defense plan.

Two doctors and the 14-year-old daughter of a scientist are the three founding members of the “social distancing” policy.  It ultimately suggested that if there was a highly contagious disease two things should happen: 1) Shut down all the schools because studies showed that they would be a major source of spreading the contagion. 2) Shut down all public events that would draw crowds in close proximity.  Fun fact from the origins of the social distancing policy, according to the New York Times, “Drs. Hatchett and Mecher were proposing instead that Americans in some places might have to turn back to an approach, self-isolation, first widely employed in the Middle Ages.”

New Normal

I really despise this term.  To me, it means that someone out there is determining what this “normal” is going to be like and that makes me nervous.  So I went in search of answers on the internet and a site about English language and usage.

Guess what?  In American history the first time the “new normal” became a part of the vernacular was after World War I.  It is predominantly used in business when there are extreme economic developments and other business concerns.  Also, the phrase “new normal” was adopted as a regular part of public discourse after 9/11 and most recently after the financial crisis of 2008/2009.

What I also learned is that disaster often precedes the use of “new normal” and that the transition to this period is a point of debate.  This addresses my initial concern about a defined normal. Should the “new normal” be envisioned followed by a process of “carving the measure of transition to suit its requirements”? Or, can the process be more organic and settled by what circumstances ultimately dictate?

Unprecedented Times

According to Dictionary.com, unprecedented is an adjective meaning “without previous instance” and “never before known or experienced; unparalleled.”   The first time a leader used the phrase “unprecedented times” was in 1641.  It was John Finch, Speaker of the House of Commons.  A Thesaurus is a great tool to look for other words to describe our situation.  But, since this has been a long-used phrase, maybe it is “go-to” in these circumstances.

What is the point?

So, in answer to my question is CoVid lingo spin or substance, I would say, from my unofficial review, that it is both.  As people consuming the news, we don’t need to use “unprecedented times” because that’s what we’re hearing.  And if politicians are thinking that they can orchestrate a “new normal” when it took them long enough to dust-off the “social distancing” policy from 2005/2006, “normal” may have to retire as a word altogether.