How to Choose Between Retainers and Projects for Your PR Needs

· Public Relations,PR Blog


Public relations is more important than ever before because of globalization that has made the world a smaller but far more competitive place. With the world becoming increasingly connected, companies are competing with businesses from across the world for whatever they want to sell or buy.

PR agencies are in the business of making the news through publicizing newsworthy stories about their clients to create awareness, build and maintain reputations, and help generate leads.

In today’s hyper-connected world, keeping your company’s brand top of mind is just as critical as maintaining a positive reputation and increasing media coverage. The more people know about your brand, the more likely they are to purchase your products or services. 

A PR agency can help you establish your company’s marketing efforts by building your brand, promoting your product or service, and other activities.

These are through several tactics and tools, including public writing, media relations, and events; whether this is on a retained, project, or ad hoc basis.

There are many benefits to using an agency or outside partner for communications and marketing needs. They can provide a fresh perspective and new ideas, they can help an organization through the process of change, and they can help generate content for a company.

One downside is that these agencies will be new to the company - but not necessarily the industry sector - and will be unfamiliar with specific messaging and marketing needs.

Another challenge is that outside partners may not always have full access to data or organizational knowledge, which may limit their ability to understand the company’s vision and goals.

Two Halves: Project or Retainer Public Relations

If you’re looking for the public relations company that’s right for your business, then you might wonder if a retainer or project-based relationship is best.

Retainer services offer regular, ongoing communication services to the company.

This saves the company from having to hire and train new employees when they need regular communication services. Retaining a PR firm also provides the opportunity for more personalized service and strategy.

A retained PR firm can provide a fresh perspective and new ideas, they can help an organization through the process of change, and they can help generate content for a company.

Public Relations professionals do their best work when they’re able to provide the public with consistent information about a client, drafting feature articles, rolling out an integrated thought leadership program, arranging interviews, helping to launch a new product or service, or handling newly gained press attention.

If opting for a public relations retainer model, you’ll have access to an agency’s team of experts who will handle all of your PR needs, including counsel, media outreach activities, social media management with additional projects being charged on top.

Retainers allow you to work with the same firm, repeatedly building up trust and rapport with them and yielding better results than if you were working with different firms every time you need some help.

Projects Give Flexibility

Project PR includes activities that draw attention and some companies hire public relations agencies for ad hoc work because they provide an organization with more flexibility than retaining a consultant on an ongoing basis.  

Projects may include a product launch, media training, promoting a partner or practice, drafting a success story, a press conference, creating branded content, or any activity falling outside the retainer.

A project gives your organization access to an agency’s team of experts who will handle all of your PR needs, including counsel and media outreach.

Public relations projects can be an important part of any business strategy because they allow companies to use resources when needed without having these committed after the project has ended.

Downsides include the stop-start nature, the required ‘knowledge spin up’ as the project begins, and the media re-engagement.


A retainer may work best for those who need continuous PR attention, while those who only want one or two campaigns may be better off with projects.

Whether to select a public relations agency on a retainer or project basis will depend on what exactly is required, the deliverables, timeframe, and budget. Knowing the pros and cons of each arrangement will help decide the best path for your organization.


Eight Public Relations specializes in working with technology and law clients in Hong Kong and across the Asia Pacific region on a retainer and project basis. Contact to find out how we can help you.   


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