PR Agency – Retainer Becoming More Popular?

Hour GlassOver the past few weeks, I’ve been hearing that more agencies are working on projects on a retainer basis vs hourly. My understanding is that the retainer enables an agency to focus on the work versus the administration. 

This is intriguing, because I previously wrote that charging by the hour contributed to part of the bad image that PR folks have. It raises several questions for me:

– Are smaller/boutique agencies the only ones doing this?
– Does this result in better quality work?
– Does this mean there is less “nickel and diming” since it’s a set retainer?

Heck, being in-house, I like this. I know what my budget is on a month-to-month basis. No ugly surprises. No explanations to my boss and finance department. What is there not to love.

I posed this question to my twitter folks, “do you think a retainer basis is better than hourly? If so, why?” Here;s the conversation:

Twitter Conversation

I would love to hear from PR agencies and other folks – in-house or agency. Which is better – montly retainer or monthly projections billed against hours?

2 thoughts on “PR Agency – Retainer Becoming More Popular?

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  • February 8, 2008 at 20:42

    Thanks for tweeting the link to the post…I can expand a bit on what I was getting at in the tweets. Your point about knowing what the bill is from month to month is both a blessing and a curse–I think it would operate like rollover minutes. Some months would be underserviced, some over–but as with many things, the months that are underserviced would get questioned (“hey, what did we pay $K to them for this month?”) and the overserviced wouldn’t be recognized as much. With billables, you are paying for what the firm is putting into the effort, which will likely ebb and flow from one month to the next.

    Billables though, as I said in my first tweet, can be difficult too. I think there’s less of an incentive to look for efficiencies when a firm is getting paid by the hour. Just my .02!


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