How to Set Up & Price Your PR Retainer Services

Sep 07, 2021

Beginners (and even experienced PR professionals) often don’t know how to set up and price their PR retainer services. But retainer clients are the KEY to successfully growing and scaling your PR agency! 

Your revenue and profitability build the foundation of a scalable business….and retainers make all of that SO much more consistent. 

If you’re struggling with how to set up and price your retainer services (or you’re wondering if you should offer discounts for certain retainer scenarios)’re not alone. Every PR pro struggles with this, especially at first. But I’m here to help!

How To Price Your PR Retainer Services When You’re Brand New To Offering Retainers

If you’re brand new to setting up retainers in your business, it’s a little overwhelming to navigate the how, why, what, and when of this process. But pricing your PR retainer services doesn’t have to be a challenge! 

Do Some Research

First, you’ll want to do some research within your niche. Is there an industry standard for the kind of niche that you're working in? Doing your research will help you build confidence and understand what type of rates you should start with. 

Just remember that your rates won’t be exactly the same as anyone else’s—there are other factors at play!

Consider Your Own Experience Levels

Next, you’ll want to consider your level of experience. Are you brand new to PR? If you're just starting out, you really are looking to gain experience, and sometimes you should price accordingly. 

You can consider offering somebody a lower rate for a limited period of time so that you can work with them and build experience. But be sure to let that client know that your lower rate is for a set period—this shouldn’t be a long-term thing! 

Related: How to Work With PR Clients Who Have Low Budgets

Keep Your Financial Goals and Situation In Mind

Finally, if you’re brand new to pricing your PR retainer services, you’ll want to consider your own financials. 

What do you want to make in a year? What's your revenue goal? Break that amount up over clients and retainers, and consider how many clients can you serve at one time. 

You’ll also want to figure out your profit margin—how much does it cost you to provide those services? If you bring in a team, how much will it cost for them to execute the services? These things matter in setting your prices so that you can be truly profitable. 

How Long Should a PR Retainer Last?

A PR retainer should be for a minimum of six months. You should approach every relationship like it’s an ongoing partnership! 

You don’t want to keep having to look for clients all the time. A longer retainer helps with that then hopefully they just continue to renew. Always try to vet whether a client thinks this is a quick expense or if it’s ongoing (because that’s the goal!). 

The main reason for a six-month minimum is leads and runway—you can see things start coming to fruition after that period of time. You don’t want a super short PR retainer, because it’s challenging to see the results quickly. But on the other hand, it’s hard to justify why you would require a whole year. 

If you do want to try and get yearlong retainers, emphasize the importance of continuing your partnership and not having interruptions to your services. You can also mention potential rate increases and how with a yearlong retainer, your clients will be grandfathered in at your original retainer rate!

Related: How to Expertly Manage Your Client Relationships

How Often Should You Bill For Your PR Retainer Services?

You’ll want to bill monthly for your retainer services, no matter the length of the retainer. Monthly invoicing protects your cash flow and sustains your business!

Before you provide any services, charge for the first month upfront. This helps you protect yourself—and it’s a common, standard practice in PR as a whole. 

If You Currently Offer PR Retainer Services, How Do You Make Sure They’re Profitable and Scalable?

If you already have set rates for your retainers, there’s a chance they're not high enough or scalable. Don’t worry—it’s totally normal for you to learn more about retainers and adjust them over time. 

Here are some of the most important things to think about if you’re currently offering PR retainer services. 

Should You Discount Your Retainer Services?

One of the biggest pricing problems I see with established PR pros is that we tend to set our retainer rates a little lower or offer discounts to seal the deal with a client. We've all done this at some point, so you’re not alone if you’re in this boat!

But you should avoid giving discounts when possible—remember, you deserve to be paid for the value you bring to the table. Once you’ve set your retainer rates, be confident in them. You’re the one in charge of your business and you’re the expert, so don’t negotiate! 

It’s important to know your worth and be selective about who you work with. You need to charge what you’re worth in order to truly grow and scale your agency—honestly, that’s one of the first foundational things you need to know if you want to be successful. 

The truth is that you should only make exceptions when something is really aligned with the direction you want to take your company in or if that client could really beef up your portfolio in your niche.

How To Give A Discount If You Really Want To

If you want to give a discount to incentivize, that can be a good strategy. But build that discount into your price so that there’s a cushion! And if you’re planning to discount your PR retainer services, make sure you still have a consistent monthly fee. 

Avoid pricing that undercuts the value of your service, like “sign up for a year, pay for 11 months, and get the 12th for free.” Instead, offer a percentage off per month for longer retainers (ex. Give a discount if someone books a year retainer instead of your typical six-month retainer). 

This strategy will help you maintain profitability and scalability...while enticing your clients to stay on and book longer retainers!

PR retainer pricing is one of those things that so many PR pros struggle with. But luckily, these tips will set you up for success. You need to offer retainers in order to truly scale your agency...and with these tips, pricing them confidently will be a breeze.