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Benchmarking PR fees

21 May

Brian-BerkmanAnswering how long a piece of string is seems simpler than knowing the average hourly rate for public relations by a consultancy.
Many PR professionals bill a time-based fee which reflects how long a job should take to complete. Rightly, in my opinion, the more skilled and connected the professional, the faster it should take in practice. The difference between the actual time and the billed time is the reward.
Some bill based on achieved coverage, either as a percentage of the dreaded Advertising Value Equivalent or per piece of coverage based on top, second or third tier media placement. Others follow a menu of outputs combined with inputs billing more if the CEO makes the call that generates the coverage than if a junior staffer does.

Most will ask for a retainer – a set monthly or yearly fee that will cover a shopping list of agreed upon services. Not only does the method allow for fairly accurate budgeting but it also means that the PR professional can plan a calendar of events not available to those working on an ad hoc basis.

Although I have recently been asked to quote on a tender-style
job where I’m sure the contract will go to the lowest price, more than 20 years industry experience tells me that PR professionals are rarely appointed without first being short-listed, recommended by one’s peer group or, in most cases, I suspect, being a friend of a friend. Relationship is the currency.
In these cases I think fees matter far less than the PR industry thinks. If you’re at a braai and hear the host being jostled about not being able to open a magazine without his ugly mug appearing in it, then you’ll want the same publicist, irrespective of cost.
Like all purchases, deciding with whom to partner on the PR front is an emotional decision and not a financial one. It is essential to find someone you can trust. After all, deciding who you will let manage your reputation and steer you away from dangerous controversy must be based on more than a tip from someone you meet at a kid’s school outing.
So, now that we agree that PR support is not as price sensitive as once imagined it raises the question how someone smart selects their communications professional?

Selecting from award winners is a good place to start as long as you know there are many, myself included, who have never entered awards and others who, with the financial backing of international agency groups, enter many awards in many different categories. So with the number of awards not the indication of excellence previously thought what happens next?
Although anyone with a brain knows public relations is much more than media liaison, only the brainless will suggest that media liaison is not an essential part of the communications mix. If I were to appoint a PR professional I would ask media for a recommendation. It is they, after all, who receive the PR output firsthand. Ask media in your target market who they recommend as a professional who sends print-ready and accurate information. Ask who submits suitable images that are correctly captioned and ask, most knowingly, who responds to queries quickly and understands the nature of deadlines.
I was recently asked to benchmark my fees by a client and found the exercise challenging as reference points are not widely available. To change this I’ve decided to dedicate a PR-Net, a peer network for the communications industry that I run, meeting to this very topic.

Details about the Cape Town meeting on Thursday, May 26 at 11am are at www.pr-net.co.za.

 

PR-Net Trade #Luxury Edition

29 Oct

I am in partnership with Publicity SA’s Andrea Desfarges in PR-Net Trade where we connect brands with media in a high-level networking exhibition. Our most recent one with brands in the luxury industry was held at The President Hotel in Bantry Bay.

Veteran hotelier Nick Seewer, currently at The Pepper Club Hotel and Spa and former managing director of Orient-Express (now Belmond) shared his insights on what defines luxury.

Andrew Brown of Camera Ready took these images:

 

Tru-Cape plants clone of the oldest pear tree in The Company’s Garden.

17 Sep

Councillor David Bryant with Tru-Cape's Henk Griessel, Alderman Belinda Walker and Tru-Cape's MD, Roelf Pienaar planting the Winter Saffron pear in the VOC Vegetable Garden at The Company's Garden, Cape Town.

Councillor David Bryant with Tru-Cape’s Henk Griessel, Alderman Belinda Walker and Tru-Cape’s MD, Roelf Pienaar planting the Winter Saffron pear in the VOC Vegetable Garden at The Company’s Garden, Cape Town.

The oldest cultivated tree in South Africa still lives in the Company’s Garden enclosed by a cast-iron railing and supported by poles and braces due to its extreme age for a tree of its species.

The Pyrus communis or Saffron Pear tree is approximately 363 years old this year, and was planted during the time of Jan van Riebeeck.

The City of Cape Town’s Parks Department, together with Tru-Cape, ensured the next generation of the Saffron Pear when a new cloned sapling was planted next to the parent tree.

‘About two years ago, Buks Nel and Henk Griessel from Tru-Cape came to The Company’s Garden looking for historical information about fruit trees as they were researching the history of the fruit industry in the Western Cape. At this time, the management of the garden was considering the vegetative propagation and preservation of this very historic tree as its longevity had taken a toll and it needed support from poles and braces,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Special Projects, Alderman Belinda Walker.

‘The visit was opportune as they requested cuttings of bud material from the tree in order to make grafts to preserve this original species of pear. We agreed that when these grafts had matured to sapling trees, some would be returned to be re-planted. This would preserve this historic specimen for years to come. The practice of propagation by grafting preserves the genetic purity of the mother-plant and, as such, is a “clone” of the parent plant,’ said the Manager of the Company’s Garden, Rory Phelan.

Another of the saplings will be planted in the VOC vegetable garden’s orchard section and it is hoped that both trees will grow for another 360 years.

‘We need to preserve what we have so that future generations will know the history of the fruit tree industry in the Western Cape which was started years ago by dedicated gardeners who cultivated the first fruits at the Cape of Good Hope,’ said Alderman Walker.

Roelf Pienaar, Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing’s Managing Director, says Tru-Cape has a responsibility to preserve genetic history for future generations.

‘Sharing a Saffron Pear with the Company’s Garden is one step closer to ensuring future generations will know it too,’ he said.
The Saffron Pear tree standing to this day is all that is left of a circle of Saffron Pear trees planted in the middle of the Company’s Garden hundreds of years ago.

On 19 April 1665 , Van Riebeeck wrote in a letter: ‘The weather was not so good for vegetable crops last year but the wine was successful. Thirty apples were picked from six trees and two pears’.

The trees were described by a visiting pastor, Valetijn, who visited the garden in 1685 and 1714. In 1853, the trees were again described to be about 150 years old from a description of a Russian visitor to the Cape who said he saw a circle of huge pear trees growing in the middle of the Company’s Garden.

It is reported that in 1910, a large pear tree with Wisteria growing onto it fell down, and the Wisteria was subsequently trained onto a pergola. Near to this was a remaining pear tree which once probably formed part of the circle of pear trees described earlier. This is the tree which grows in the garden to this day and the Wisteriastill grows on the adjacent pergola.

#LCHF PR-Net Trade event and #Banting while out

18 Aug

The conversation around Prof Tim Noakes’ 25g or less of carbohydrate a day with quality fat from olive oil, fish and meat in every meal and the hash tags  #LCHF and #Banting seems to be as angry as our world at war.

Rather than refute his theories in a constructive way that also educates us all, his naysayers describe him as criminal. For me the truth of his diet is irrefutable. I know that I can continue to eat pretty much what I like while maintaining my healthy weight but just slightly increasing my carb intake – from 100g of cashews, for example, reflects heavily on the scale the very next day.

Because I’m never really hungry doesn’t mean that I eat tiny portions – I wish I did, as it may be better for me. I still eat more than I need to because I enjoy the pleasure of it. I still eat emotionally when I feel overwhelmed. I’m behaviour hasn’t changed so very much. What has changed is what I eat and I continue to be disciplined in selecting low-carb foods that are sugar free.

I don’t mind engaging a server, like I did recently at Woolworth’s Willowbridge and Tasha’s at the Waterfront recently, to ask the kitchen to adjust a dish to meet LCHF.

There is regular news of new restaurants and suppliers joining The Banting Bandwagon and the high fat, but flour-free Gravy Train. As wonderful as it is to know restaurants are offering LCHF menus, we must remain vigilant. When it comes to maintaining my weight nothing is more important.

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I’m not sure how some of the items on Bread & Butter’s  Sunningdale LCHF menu got there. A liberal sprinkling of cashew nuts and apple slices is not what the doctor orders nor is the addition of fresh peas to a dish for people on low-carb, low-sugar diet.

PR-Net Trade, a JV between Andrea Desfarges of PublicitySA and I, recently hosted Prof Noakes and LCHF suppliers to a meet-the-media event. It was great to see many that are already entrenched in my kitchen like Crede (say kra-day)  and Lancewood but a wonderful treat to connect with Cold Gold Ice Cream and fab yogurt supplier Curds & Whey and my school friend Denise of Caring Candies, who first introduced me to xylitol.

Janine van Zyl, of Cold Gold Ice Cream also helped the chef at the stellar Coopmanshujs Hotel and Restaurant create a #LCHF dinner for us Saturday. What a treat and proof that with advance notice and a willingness to accommodate fussy diners, miracles can and do happen.

PR-Net Trade brings together wine industry and media

11 Mar

The first PR-Net Trade event, in partnership with Andrea Desfarges of Publicity, was held on the 7th Floor pool deck of Mandela Rhodes Place Hotel. 

Seen there were:

Lianne Burton shared her Pinterest passion with PR-Net

12 Feb

Had a brilliant PR-Net last night with Lianne Burton sharing her passion and insights about Pinterest with the group.

Our venue was Cameraland, the perfect inner-city venue for a presentation and reception on their open roof top. www.BizCommunity.com, PR-Net’s exclusive media partner sponsored the refreshments.

Seen there were:

Social media metrics discussed at PR-Net at Ambassador Hotel

31 Oct

Matt Barclay of Meltwater shared his views on the essential insights that social media metrics can deliver. We first met for drinks and canapes at The Salt Vodka Bar, Victoria Road, Bantry Bay before using The Ambassador Hotel’s Alpha Conference Room.

JP and I then had a tip top #LCHF #Paleo dinner at The Ambassador’s new restaurant, Koi. Here are some images from the evening:

Top Billing spoke to PR-Net at The Brasserie in Tokai, Cape Town.

17 Sep

Patience Stevens and her Top Billing on SABC3 team of Amor Engelbrecht, Yusuf Stevens and Julia Fell spoke to PR-Net about their show. Chef Stef Marais prepared the most amazing dinner in the upstairs private room at The Brasserie, Tokai. Greg Gelb did the magic,Mike Wesson the photos and Mango OMC the Social Media updates.

Seen there were:

The 12 Apostles Hotel & Spa hosts PR-Net with Peter Mann

26 Aug

Although just one aspect of public relations practice, media relations or publicity is what most clients want. Meropa Communications head honcho Peter Mann spoke to PR-Net in Cape Town at the fabulous 12 Apostles Hotel & Spa who put on a spread that still has all our tummies happy and tongues wagging with praise.

Seen there were:

Allen Jaffe of ROI Media spoke to PR-Net

26 Jul

Last night’s sold-out PR-Net meeting with Allen Jaffe speaking about measuring return on investment was testament to how hungry the PR industry is to quantify our social media efforts. Our venue was the superb restaurant, The Savoy Cabbage and, as for all PR-Net meetings, Mike Wesson took the photos.

Seen there were: