Good questions lead to smart solutions


Selecting the right public relations partner presents some interesting issues and challenges? Does the agency have the industry experience and contacts we need? How is the agency organized and how will my account be staffed? What kind of processes are in place to ensure my programs stay on track and on budget? How do I set a budget, and how do I measure success?

We’re eager to meet with you to answer questions you might have and to learn more about your PR and marketing communications needs. In the meantime, let us answer some questions you might have.

Q: How does Bridgeman Communications charge for its services?

We provide our clients a fee structure that best fits their requirements, scope of work and timetable, and planning and budgeting process. Most of our programs are based on annual plans with a monthly estimate of time and fee charges. Unlike most agencies that charge a fixed, monthly retainer regardless of the work performed, Bridgeman bills hourly charges against a monthly budget, billing time up to, but not to exceed, that estimate without prior approval.

The monthly budget can be fixed or variable, depending on changing requirements over the year, such as a busy trade show schedule or a new product launch. We also work with clients on a campaign basis for dedicated programs over a period of 3-4 months. In addition, some of our clients may have an ongoing monthly program, but ask us to budget for special projects over the course of the year as well.

Q: What about expenses?

Expenses can vary widely based on the program and vendor expenses, but as a rule of thumb, expenses are usually 10-15% of the fee. These expenses include items such as phone, on-line research, media research services, distribution services, postage and overnight delivery, or travel. Bridgeman Communications, unlike most firms, does not charge commission or mark-up its out-of-pocket or vendor expenses. The exception may be if Bridgeman is buying media or brokering and advancing major printing or creative projects.

Q: What does a typical public relations program cost?

That’s sort of like the old question, “how long should a person’s legs be?” Answer: just long enough to reach the ground.

The cost for PR services is dictated by the needs of your company, the marketing budget, and the level of impact you need PR to have. Some people think about a budget in terms of size and stage of their company. Start-ups with funding for marketing often spend $100,000 to $150,000 a year. Companies with revenues of $5-10 million may only need to spend $50,000 to $100,000 a year, while companies in the $20-50 million range routinely budget hundreds of thousands of dollars for agency services. These budgets also vary widely depending on a combination of in-house and agency services.

The other way to look at setting a budget is to work with an agency to prepare a detailed plan. From there you can look at your internal resources and, in combination with an agency, determine the number of hours each project, program or campaign might take. By assessing an estimated hourly rate for each staff person and program, you’ll have a pretty accurate view of what a program might cost.

Q: How does Bridgeman typically begin a new client relationship?

Our Dual Track Start-up process means we’re taking care of the short term need-to-dos while building a strategy and plan, usually within the first 4-6 weeks of a relationship.

We meet with management, review past programs and existing materials (such as speeches, white papers, etc.) to get a view of what we can start with. At the same time we’re asking questions about your business and marketing plans which may lead to a planning and messaging session to get us on track. The net result is a 9-12 month public relations plan that maps out our goals, strategies, and tactics.

But we don’t spend 6 weeks just planning. Right from the start we begin media outreach, looking at editorial calendars with looming deadlines and contacting your key media to reintroduce your company and chase pending opportunities. We’re doing the same thing with your speaking programs and analyst relations, checking to make sure that key submission deadlines are not passing.

In short, we get started fast on both the tactical and strategic elements of your campaign.

Q: How does Bridgeman measure results?

We measure our success and your ROI based on the goals we mutually set, the tactics we agree to and the results we deliver. In some cases that means did we get the right coverage in the right channel with the right measure? If our strategy says “educate audience ‘X’ about ‘Y’ message, then did our publicity, speaking programs, white paper and Webinars reach the quality and numbers on our target list? Did we reach your target list with a compelling proposition that drove people to your Web site?

The toughest part of measuring public relations and marketing communications is on the front end … defining the right plan with clear goals and deliverables. After that, defining value is easy.

Q: Have you worked with pre-IPO companies and do you conduct investor relations as well?

We’ve worked with our share of pre-IPO companies driving valuation in markets from software and network systems to wireless technologies. These companies share a common need to tell their story to both business and financial communities by staking out their territory and providing the proof points of their success.

Our financial relations experience involves working with both new ventures in their pre-IPO or private placement stage, or managing business and financial press for public companies who need to stay in front of key investment and market-making audiences.

Q: Does Bridgeman handle international campaigns?

Yes. Many of our U.S. clients, or firms in Europe and Asia working in the U.S. market, ask us to design and coordinate international media relations programs. Sometimes we take on these assignments and direct the programs here in the U.S. In other cases, we work together with an international contingent of PR agencies. We often work with a consortia of overseas PR agencies, acting as lead agency and sometimes “brand police,” guiding other agencies on strategy and regional activities. Areas where we have worked extensively include Belgium, France, Germany, UK and Hong Kong.

More questions?

Give us a call at 617-742-7270, and let’s start a conversation.