Transparent PR pricing: A fiction or a reality?


Talk about making a rod for your own back …

During my first few weeks in my new job at Holyrood PR, I was puzzled to hear my colleagues discussing the fact that our public relations agency is quite possibly the only one in Scotland to publish its charges online.

It wasn’t that I didn’t believe this, but let’s just say I found it a struggle to wrap my head around the possibility. After all, there are many highly reputable PR agencies in Scotland. Surely they have embraced good practice and transparency and make it easy to find their fees and charges on their websites?

Yep. I did make the mistake of saying that out loud.

My new colleagues smiled in an understanding way and pointed me in the direction of this post – It’s a guessing game when it comes to the cost of PR in Scotland. Even after reading this post, I still had my doubt. Surely other agencies must publish their PR rate, prices, charges, especially the smaller independent agencies? Surely?

Me and my big mouth. That’s why I found myself spending a couple of days trawling through more than 60 websites for PR agencies of all types and sizes across the country.

It turns out my colleague Chris Fairbairn had landed this exact job a year earlier and had pulled together a list of 60 PR agencies in Scotland and their website addresses.

Of course, websites change all the time, so 12 months later I found myself working through the very same list to establish if anything had changed. I kept telling myself that I wouldn’t be disappointed. To my mind it was a certainty that at least one agency openly published their prices. Now it was my job to update the research.

I undertook the job during a quiet couple of days, helped by Spotify’s newly added Beatles collection playing through my speakers. It was a case of putting my head down and getting on with it.

As I went through agency after agency, some with pretty big award wins (since being named Scotland’s Outstanding Small PR Consultancy in 2015 we pay attention to these things) I started to realise that my colleagues were almost certainly right.

Holyrood PR fees and charges are published prominently on our websiteAs I got to the final agency website address on the list I was glad I hadn’t put money or some embarrassing forfeit in the pot. I can now confirm that, of the 60 agencies I checked, none put their costs and charges prominently on their websites.

Of course, I can’t say the information isn’t there somewhere, but I can be clear: if any of them have published the information, they’ve done their best to make it hard to find.
Why is this important and why should you care?

Well – you wouldn’t spend a chunk of your business budget on a product if you never knew how much it cost up front, would you? Equally, you wouldn’t place adverts in newspapers without advance knowledge of other prices from competing papers.

So why should you be expected to take decisions on hiring a PR agency without a clear and transparent understanding of what they’re charging you, why they charge what they do and what your business gets in return.

Happily there is at least one Scottish PR agency flying the flag for transparency – you can find our charges published prominently on our website –


We believe this clarity is essential for clients to plan their budgets – and to win their trust.

As a result we have worked with some fabulous clients, delivered a host of award-winning campaigns and have some amazing case studies to show for it.

– See more at:

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