Is there a PR Consultant in Your Future?
by Michael J. Crosbie
Editor's Note: Even if you run a small firm, you might consider hiring a public relations consultant to give your practice a boost. How do you find a PR consultant? What questions should you ask in hiring one? And how do you know if you're getting what you pay for? ArchitectureWeek contributing editor Michael J. Crosbie quizzes public relations consultant Jane Cohn. Illustrations are by the architecture, engineering, and interior design firm of Fletcher-Thompson, Inc., one of Cohn's clients.
Michael J. Crosbie: Why hire a public relations consultant?
Jane Cohn: In any architecture office, project work and proposal deadlines will always take precedence over public relations, resulting in missed PR opportunities. Architects' best intentions in trying to do it themselves usually don't pan out. So a PR consultant is the logical choice.
MJC: What does a PR consultant cost?
JC: Most firms spend anywhere from 5 to 15 percent of gross revenues for marketing and an average of 10 to 15 percent of that for PR. That is a general rule of thumb. Some PR freelancers will bill on an hourly or a project basis. Retainers can range anywhere from $2,000 a month or less, up to $7,500 a month depending on scope or program. Consultants will typically charge for their reimbursables, their out-of-pocket expenses. Some add on a small fee for that.
MJC: How do you work with a consultant? What's the architect's role?
JC: It's important to be clear about why you're undertaking a PR campaign. To get a couple of projects published because you want reprints is not a good enough reason. You have to have some strategic notion, and the PR consultant you choose can act as a catalyst to help clarify that. If you think in terms of a PR program with goals and strategies and tactics that are an extension of your direct marketing efforts, then you'll be using your dollars effectively.
801 Main Street Tower is a proposal for the redevelopment of a portion of the central business district in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Image: Fletcher-Thompson, Inc.
Bridgeport's new Long Island Sound ferry terminal with Port Authority and harbormaster's offices.
Photo: Fletcher-Thompson, Inc.
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