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Project or Retainer? The Best Way to Work with a PR Agency

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We get this question a lot! What’s the best way to work with a PR agency? Is it best to go on a project-by-project basis, or is it preferable to have your agency on retainer? Our answer probably won’t surprise you: It really depends on the needs of your brand. To help you decide how to move forward, let’s take a closer look at each option.

Project
Engaging a PR agency for project work is a short-term relationship. This might be the best option if you only need to accomplish one specific goal over a short period of time. Project work is kind of a, get in get out proposition. That’s not necessarily bad if that’s what your brand needs, but it’s a more narrow and tactical view of PR. For project work, a PR agency will agree on a scope of work (SoW) and then they get that work—and only that work—completed. It’s a very tactical approach to PR which typically provides a limited view of strategy and only looks to complete one specific campaign.

Retainer
Engaging a PR agency with a retainer opens up a wider range of services. This is a relationship that becomes more like a partnership, with a dedicated staff at the agency always working on behalf of your brand. The PR team will become knowledgeable in your industry, tasked with staying on top of the latest news coming out of your space. On a retainer, your PR agency can take a more strategic look at your brand and develop an ongoing PR program that is designed to meet a variety of goals. Since it’s a long-term relationship, it allows the agency to build connections with media contacts specifically for your company, and become a valuable resource in getting coverage and placements for your brand.

Signing up for a retainer offers a more holistic view of PR, and your retainer team will be constantly looking for new opportunities with which your brand can engage. They’ll drive the momentum of communication efforts for you, whether that’s with the media, on your social platforms or with your customers in other ways. The agency will also be available to your team for a variety of needs such as press releases, media relations, social media posts, creating sharable content, thought leadership pieces, best practices questions, media training and crisis communication (we don’t want to have to use this, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared).

It just depends
So, there you have it! There are a couple of ways to engage with a PR agency, you just have to determine the best fit for your brand. If you’re looking to do a quick campaign that has a finite end date and only offers a short-term relationship, project work is probably the best fit for you. However, if your brand is looking for an overarching PR strategy that fulfills a variety of goals and maintains momentum throughout the year, a retainer is probably the way to go. Now, look at your needs and determine how you want to move forward!