Not surprisingly it is a question we are often asked. In a competitive situation where a potential client is trying to decide between submissions from rival consultancies, how can you decide which one offers the best value for money?

Let me answer the first question first. At DRPR, we charge a monthly professional fee (not a retainer), which is calculated in accordance with the potential level of involvement.

In other words we are pre-selling our hours which are calculated with the aid of a template based on extensive experience of handling similar situations in the past. We work on the principle that when the client opens the envelope and takes out the invoice, there are no surprises as everything has been agreed to in advance. The client can budget and we know what our obligation is towards the client. I have worked under other charging systems in the past, such as hours worked and retainer plus hours. The problem with this system is that everyone becomes preoccupied with how long it took to do the job and not the outcome.

And the second question – how do you make an assessment on budget between competing consultancies? Remember that as the professional fee is made on a time assessment, a lower fee will reflect less time being spent and therefore less activity. It is also important to look at the activities that are included as not all PR consultancies handle all aspects. For example, if one consultancy includes website review, the generation of content, social forums, blog guidance and a regular e-newsletter (and we do all of the above) and another doesn’t, clearly there is a considerable disparity between the two offerings and you may have to source these services from other suppliers, hence costing you more in the long run.

Naturally, price should not be the only arbiter between consultancies, but I will reserve some of those other aspects to a future blog.

Let me know if you have had any experiences of trying to decide between competing PR consultancies on the grounds of price?

- Dennis Rutzou