The True Cost of PR and Marketing: Agency VS In-House Financial Breakdown With Infographics

true cost of pr and marketing

When it comes to hiring for marketing and PR, there’s a big disconnect between what marketing and PR teams are worth and what brands are willing to spend.

While, obviously, no one should denigrate a professional’s work—especially when they don’t know all the elements or costs needed for producing such work—businesses big and small have budgets.

We get that.

So how do these conversations typically play out? Let’s get started!

Identifying Marketing and PR Goals

Many companies know they want to promote their business but don’t have a hard and fast definition of what that means or what outcomes they are looking for. 

Brand awareness and lead generation are two big reasons for hiring a B2B marketing team—but what do these goals really entail—and are there other important goals being overlooked? 

When we speak with prospects, a lot of the conversations are akin to this:

“Sometimes I see my competitors being mentioned in the news or getting attention on podcasts, but I’m not sure how to get media coverage for my brand…and I definitely want to create brand awareness and increase lead generation. And I don’t get much traffic on my website, and we have social media accounts, but we don’t have many followers….” 

In this case, we’ve identified a few key goals that the customer—let’s call her Sharon—has: 

  • Media coverage
  • Brand awareness
  • Lead generation
  • Website traffic
  • Social media growth

Essentially, this prospect wants a holistic Mixed Marketing Model strategy (the kind we specialize in here at Zen): paid, shared, earned, and owned media working together. 

We recommend at least 90 days with a PR agency to set up a media plan, find quality placements in appropriate publications, and get live opportunities like podcasts and fireside chats. That should cover media coverage and help with brand awareness. 

To add in lead generation and website traffic, there are a few other must-haves: well-designed paid ads that tie to website landing pages, SEO-optimized website copy housed on a beautifully designed website, and a blog with a strong B2B SEO strategy. 

And then, when we add social media growth on top of that, we are looking at more content generation, design, and strategy. Suppose we want to tie that social media growth more heavily to brand awareness and lead gen. In that case, we could also consider influencer relationships, which means more strategy and account management.

And that’s where customers start to second-guess the process.

But if you want to meet those goals, it is a process.

It takes time, money, expertise, and patience. 

Each piece of the puzzle yields results at a different pace, meaning a multi-faceted strategy will yield consistent results—building an impactful, well-known brand with strong authority and following. 

But many prospects want to circumvent one or all of these traits. The main thing companies want to avoid? Money. 

But without money, you don’t get the expertise.

And without experts taking the time to understand the company, the audience, the industry, and more—and using their knowledge and skills to build a holistic strategy—the odds of reaping the results you seek are pretty low… So I guess you can throw patience out the window, then, too. No point in waiting around for disappointment. 

But we get it. Money is on all of our minds right now. 

Related reading: 5 Reasons Why You Should Invest in Digital Marketing and PR During a Recession

And with financial fears in mind, Sharon will try to do it all herself—bless her heart.  

The DIY Disaster Campaign

But Sharon isn’t going to phone it in with a blog post every now and then, and a few likes on social media. She wants to do it the right way, with a full strategy that drives real results.

You go girl.  

With the do-it-yourself approach, Sharon will need to take courses on B2B social media marketing, SEO, and digital marketing to get started. 

After those, she’ll need to take some graphic design, writing, and PR courses. 

Once she completes her training, she’ll need to purchase all of the necessary software to run an effective campaign. 

Only after attaining the necessary skillsets and technology can she really start working on her strategy. Sharon will probably want to start some SEO-targeted blogging and posting to social media at least a few times a week. While she’s working on writing and designing that content, she should consider whether a newsletter or email drip campaign makes sense. 

On top of generating content for the company blog, multiple social media platforms, paid ads promoting products and specials, and the website, Sharon will need to start pitching to reputable publications to get press placements. And—to ensure she’s actually making progress—she should continue tracking SEO progress, how her paid ads perform, website traffic, lead generation, social media metrics, and her company’s share of voice

The issue with saving money and doing it yourself? You sacrifice time. 

Remember those quick results Sharon was looking for? 

They didn’t happen because she was busy learning the ropes and getting set up. And while Sharon is a quick learner—she’s sacrificing the quality that comes with dedicated experts with degrees, certifications, and years of experience in their niche fields. 

Here’s the hard truth: An experienced graphic designer can probably make a prettier website than Sharon. An accomplished PR professional can probably get higher-tier placements, which means increased share of voice. A professional writer can probably engage readers more effectively and generate content more quickly—and on it goes. 

We love Sharon, but Sharon is only one person. 

Power In Numbers

So, maybe Sharon should consider hiring marketing professionals. Instead of a one-woman team, she could hire a few team members—a copywriter, SEO specialist, social media strategist, graphic designer—and in the end, the combined salaries of a skilled internal marketing and PR team is more expensive than hiring a marketing and PR agency. 

When it comes down to it, hiring an internal team costs money. Here is what that typically looks like, by the numbers: 

When you tally up the averages, that comes out to about $466,000 for a bare-minimum “average” team of six—or almost $40,000 a month. 

Now imagine that you have a highly technical product, so you need your copywriter to have a strong tech background—add another 10-20k. Assume you want a graphic designer that can do animation or video as well—add another 10-20k. Maybe your social media game plan includes multiple platforms, including emerging platforms like TikTok and potential in the Metaverse and Web3—add another 10-20k.

Related reading: The Future of Marketing in Web3

Let’s face it: you’re not just paying for their average salaries, either; you’re also paying for their benefits: health insurance, PTO, and sick time. Having an entire team gets costly.

Don’t forget the tech tools—graphic design software, video editing software, SEO platforms, and more.  

In the end, we’re looking at $500,000+ a year—and that’s only if you don’t live in a high cost-of-living area.

Few realize that it truly takes a village

Our President Stephanie Chavez said it best in her recent Forbes article. 

But when you go with an agency, the cost for a holistic strategy comes closer to $35,000 a month—no benefits or costly software necessary. And with that cost, you’re dealing with an experienced agency with knowledge and expertise in the B2B market. Outsourcing is not just more cost-effective but offers a broader range of experience. 

Related reading: 4 Reasons Your B2B Company Should Outsource Marketing and PR

Establishing a marketing strategy takes time and experience. PR and marketing agencies typically have decades of experience and education under their belts—and that’s why they charge what they do and why they’re able to turn assignments around so quickly. 

We know it isn’t cheap—but the right agency will work with you. At Zen, we like to ramp up with our clients. Often, that means starting with PR and adding on services as we prove that working with us will bring you a huge ROI.

With the right agency partner, Sharon can meet her goals without breaking the bank or burning out. Instead, she can get some quick wins and build a digital campaign to create long-term returns. 

Trust a reputable professional; you’ll always get what you pay for. 

Ready to put your faith in an established PR and marketing powerhouse? Reach out!


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