A Public Relations (PR) Retainer Agreement is a contract where a company agrees to pay for public relations services in advance.
PR retainer agreements may cover the scope of services provided, fees, retainer replenishment, term and termination, governing law, dispute resolution, and more.
When to Use
Companies use PR retainer agreements to secure PR services ahead of time. This way, the PR agency can communicate on the company’s behalf evenly and consistently with a steady stream of articles, social media, press releases, and blogs.
PR agencies and professionals use PR retainer agreements to build long-term client partnerships and respond quickly to client needs. Without PR retainer agreements, PR agencies and professionals would have to spend more time locating and attracting clients.
How Does a PR Retainer Work?
A public relations retainer is a fee paid by a company to a PR relations agency or professional every month. The company pays the fee before the PR agency does any work. The amount paid depends on how much work the company requires. The PR professional then deducts their services from the retainer.
Public relations retainer agreements regulate PR retainers. These contracts typically include the following sections:
- Scope of services. This section establishes what services the PR agency or professional will provide.
- Fees. This states how much the client will pay the PR agency or professional for the retainer fee. The PR agency retainer fee can reflect the agency’s rate per week, hour, month, or flat rate.
- Replenishment of retainer. Include this section if the PR agency requires additional funds to provide the contracted service(s) continually.
- Term and termination. Use this section to remind both parties when the agreement will be effective and when it will terminate. PR retainer contracts can terminate after all services are completed, after a fixed period, on a specific date, or at will.
- Confidentiality. This section ensures the PR agency or professional will maintain the confidentiality of all information obtained while working for the client. It also clarifies that all work performed by the PR agency for the client is work for hire, and the client gets all rights to the work.
- Governing law. This clause picks one jurisdiction whose courts will decide any disputes under the PR retainer agreement.
- Disputes. Depending on their preferences and needs, parties can choose to resolve disputes arising from this agreement through court litigation, binding arbitration, mediation, or mediation and binding arbitration.
- Severability. If a court finds any part of this PR retainer agreement invalid under the parties’ chosen jurisdiction, the remaining sections will remain enforceable as if the invalidated part was never part of the agreement.
- Entire agreement. This section establishes that the PR retainer agreement is the entire agreement between the parties and voids all previous arrangements, discussions, and agreements.
How to Price PR Retainers
You can price PR retainers in several ways:
1. Variable Hourly Billing
Variable hourly billing is when each PR agency member bills at different hourly rates based on individual expertise and experience. For example, a PR agency may have one or two junior staff charging lower rates being supervised by an executive with a higher rate.
If the client requires the expertise of senior PR professionals, the retainer fee will be higher to reflect the higher hourly rate. The PR agency will estimate the hours it can apply against the retainer every month — for example, 15 hours of work from junior-level PR professionals, 20 hours from mid-management professionals, and two hours of executive oversight.
2. Flat Hourly Billing
Individual PR consultants typically charge one flat hourly rate. However, some may charge different rates for different services. For instance, attending a reporter briefer may have a lower rate than writing a press release.
3. Variables and Discounts
PR agencies and professionals may offer trial periods if companies want to test before committing. Trials build trust and ensure parties are on the same page.
Some PR agencies also provide discounts for longer contract periods. For instance, a PR company may give a client an estimated retainer amount of $7,000 monthly with an 8% discount each month for six months or a 15% discount for a year.
Parties may also negotiate specific projects as separate from a retainer agreement. For instance, suppose a tech company wants to join a trade show. Because the trade show is a one-time event, it can ask its PR agency to price it as a separate project.
Use our free PDF and Word PR retainer template to create your own public relations retainer agreement: