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Becoming a PR consultant is one of the most exciting moves a PR pro can make. However, there can arise issues between your client and you – the service provider. Problems like clients who refuse to pay citing various reasons, or clients who expect you to work beyond the agreed scope. The client could also need to terminate the relationship, or the opposite could occur – you could be wanting out.  Thus, a PR contract is the document that will save the day in case such problems arise since it protects both parties and is admissible in a court of law.

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You can decide to draft the PR contract from scratch, or you can develop it from an existing template. There are numerous but useful contract templates available online, and you could use these if you are short on time. However, whether based on a model or drafted from scratch, there are a few elements your contract should not miss.

1. The contract's lifetime

You should not ignore the beginning and end dates of the contract. These dates mark the lifetime of the PR contract, and thus everything that encompasses the business relationship is limited to the start and end dates. This action helps avoid issues that arise due to miscommunication. For example, you will know when to commence the PR services, and you will know for how long you will provide those services. In case the client wishes to extend the life of the contract, you will need to specify the procedures that will be followed to this effect. The same applies if the client wishes to terminate the contract prematurely.

2. The scope of work

This particular clause outlines the specific services you will offer during the business relationship. Specifying the range of work helps avoid many issues that are bound to arise in a business relationship. Your PR contract should outline the specific duties you (the service provider) will tackle. The contract will also consider the nature of the project; if it's a one-off type of project or a more complicated project that may require a more complex business relationship. Specifying the scope of work also involves specific duties and responsibilities, as well as liabilities incurred. This clause protects both parties by ensuring that your client knows what they should expect from you (the service provider) and also, protects your PR agency from undue liabilities.

3. A termination clause

While you would love a guaranteed business relationship that spans years, it is essential to include a termination clause. This action will protect you (the PR agency) in case you need to terminate the business relationship, or if the client wishes to do the same. A termination clause explains the basis on which either party can end the business relationship and what liabilities are incurred. For example, if the client is dissatisfied with your services, they will have a definite exit plan specified in the PR contract, and the same applies to you. Depending on the nature of the business, liabilities may be incurred in case of premature termination of the deal. Without a termination clause, you may find your hands tied if the business relationship goes south, or worse, goes to court.

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4. Budgeting and billing

While budgeting is taken seriously, billing procedures often are not. This issue holds true for most small PR firms. However, having a clause that outlines the details of the budgeting and billing process will save you a headache in the future. For example, you can specify that you will be receiving payments on a monthly basis, or every quarter of the year. You can agree whether the client will be billed per hour, or if they will be billed per month. Penalties will also be stipulated in this clause. This clause removes chances of money issues cropping up between you and your clients.

In Essence

The PR contact should protect both parties in case of misunderstandings. Starting a business relationship without a contract is a landmine of severe problems that could end up in court.

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