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.

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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.

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