Invoices are part of any business, freelance or not. A PR company is no different. Whether you like crunching numbers or not, you will need a system for handling billing your clients and for monitoring cash flow. It is possible to find a painless solution for preparing your invoice for your client.
A public relations or PR invoice will differ for the different types of work involved. The jobs include event management, consultancy, press releases and specialist activities. The type of billing will also vary depending on the kind of services; you can opt for direct costs, or you may choose to bill per hour.
So, what billing options do you have before you create your first public relations invoice?
If you opt to bill per hour, you will charge them for the number of hours spent on their behalf. It's therefore important to note that different types of work attract different rates, regardless of the hours worked. This is because there are PR tasks that require more specialized skills than others (for example, the consultancy will attract more fees as compared to writing press releases). Thus, your PR invoice should reflect the task, charges per hour and the number of hours spent on behalf of the client.
If you don't prefer hourly billing, you have the option of charging per individual project. Thus, you should know the estimated cost the project would cost, allowing your client to know what to expect before the public relations invoice from your office gets to them. Project billing is best applied in defined activities like writing a press release, managing a press conference or organizing company meetings. The PR invoice thus, therefore, should include direct costs like cost of hiring a venue, printing work that was required and the service charge (you can opt to include hours spent on that particular project).
It is possible to negotiate a monthly, quarterly or annual retainer fees for long-term contracts. Therefore, you should estimate the time you are likely to spend on behalf of your client and settle on a figure that is acceptable. This avenue calls for due diligence, as you should ensure that the client realizes the value for their money while they are paying the retainer. Since you should still make a profit from the venture, specify the scope of work the retainer will cover. The PR invoice thus will be a cyclical one whose figures will not vary considerably from time to time. Don't enter into retainer agreements where the unlimited use of your time is expected since it's not a financially viable option, regardless of how bad you want the business.
Another viable option is to bill management fees for buying services on behalf of the client. Such services include arranging press conference or distributing press releases. Managing PR services can have you incur costs like finding suppliers, supervising work and settling public relations invoices. These tasks consume a lot of time, and thus you should know how much your time is worth in this case. This mode of billing will have you cover the costs of such services and therefore, when setting the management fees, make sure the cost of acquiring the services are included on top of the service charge.
This type of billing is solely dependent on the value your client is likely to realize from your PR services. Some tasks like writing press releases on products can take quite a considerable amount of time and research to boost their reputation. However, when they realize remarkable sales on the product, then they will have received value for their money. Thus, it will take quite many factors to consider before the value is determined; elements like the sales targets, the duration of time the campaign will run and expected returns for the client.
Depending on the type of PR services rendered, the public relations invoices will differ for different clients. Thus, the above guidelines should enable you to have a clue on how to go about the billing process for your clients.