What drove OneChocolate to build this online calculator, a tool that lets companies of all sizes and sectors work out how much press relations campaigns cost?

Setting up a press relations campaign – even getting started on it – can be a rather tricky business. Die-hard clichés aside (eg ‘I need someone with the right contacts’), the first obstacle to overcome is accurately defining the company’s communication needs. Once they’re identified, the next question is how to find the right partner who’ll provide best-in-class account management and client support? A quick market research would throw up as many agencies as ways to evaluate the cost of a campaign.

This cost disparity could potentially bring disrepute upon a well-established trade, one that produces benefits that need no elaboration when PR campaigns are successful. Some might even argue that the subjective pricing method is based on whether the agency likes the look of the customer! Without going quite so far, it has to be said that finding one’s way around the going rates could feel like a maze, between agencies who charge by the hour, like lawyers, those who opt for item-based billing, and those who, opposed to the standard practices in the profession, go by fees for results. This grey area grows wider still with most agencies taking great pride in seeing themselves as consulting firms, ie their obligation is to deliver the stated services and not agreed outcomes.

Some clarification is necessary but so is reaching out and spreading the word, as press relations can be hard to grasp in their entirety for those not in the trade, and it’s something they need to deal with which gets added to their workload. As such, coming up with a press relations budget means taking into account various aspects, such as number of activities, number of reports and report frequency, level of seniority required by the project, etc.

Offering a tool that lets companies of all sizes and sectors that are either looking to professionalise their PR practices, or simply obtain more information on market prices so they may compare them to their current billings, has become vital. The tool now exists and comes in a form of a quick calculator which, in fewer than 7 questions, churns out a range of costs that could be used as a basis for discussion for companies who are reconsidering their PR campaign choices. Its primary purpose is to give a ballpark figure and start a productive discussion that helps clarify expectations, determine the project’s objectives and scope, and thus provide an overview on the desired outcomes. Let us, however, be reminded that press relations is not an exact science, although tools such as this could serve to, amongst other things, alert us to potential budget overruns that have occurred in the past, owing especially to the blessed ‘creativity’…

A calculator of this kind came just at the right moment, for it addresses the need for transparency that goes beyond echoing the zeitgeist and responds to a market necessity. It has the virtue of shining a light on a profession that is sometimes still unknown, as a result of prejudice or simply ignored. Independent and completely neutral, it uses aggregated standard market rates and serves therefore the interests of the entire community of PR agencies.

Companies that opt for simple and quick tools like this are backing the right horse because, unlike those who choose to remain in the dark, they’ve understood the need to communicate even in times of crisis. What better proof than online media that saw traffic to their sites increase during the peculiar period that just ended? Gone are the days of ‘hide well, live well’, a lack of communication today raises concerns and even suspicions regarding the health of a company. The hour is come for transparency about everything, in everything, including press relations, and a calculator such as this provides just the means to meet the need.

I urge you to visit prcost.fr and give it a try. And don’t forget to share your thoughts on the calculator!

Xavier Delhôme