It’s about time PR became more like construction13th August 2015
The Construction Products Association’s latest survey has found that the sector is now into its third year of growth, which is great news across the delivery chain.
But the upturn comes with its own pressures and, as with any service industry, your reputation is only as good as your current performance. With programmes tighter than ever, every second spent on site counts and any extra time incurred for whatever unforeseen reason is your problem to solve; the client’s only interest is the outcome.
It should be the same story in the PR sector…but it very often isn’t.
A survey carried out by the University of Leeds’ Institute of Communications Studies has highlighted just how often PR agencies charge a fee based on the time they spend, rather than on the results they deliver.
It found that only two per cent of PR agencies calculate their fee entirely on the results they generate, with the remainder basing their costs on a ‘time spent’ fee structure.
In theory, time spent should equate to results delivered. However, there are so many variables - such as the experience on the team, the quality of ideas and the agency’s enthusiasm for getting the job done - that the hours spent don’t always add up to a tangible return on investment.
Indeed, the University of Leeds study unveiled some unpalatable truths when it comes to return on investment too. Only 21 per cent of PR agencies always give clients an estimate of the anticipated return on their PR fee investment: so, not only are most charging clients for something as intangible as time, but many are not even communicating to clients what they can expect to see in terms of results from the time spent.
As a built environment, construction PR specialist, I find the survey shocking. For my clients in the construction sector, it is just as alarming. After all, on a construction site, time is measured in how much has been achieved in the hours available, not in how many hours have been spent.
Marketing professionals should adopt that philosophy too. Ours is also a sector that’s experiencing the opportunity of growth and the challenges of skills shortages and it’s about time we also fell into step with a culture of defining what we’ll produce for the fee paid before working as hard as it takes until we achieve it.