ANALYSIS: THIS WEEK’S BIG QUESTION - What should charities be charged by PR agencies? Bell Pottinger has been hired for a reduced fee by the Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Fund

James Rye, Scope (formerly Spastics Society)

James Rye, Scope (formerly Spastics Society)

’It’s perfectly reasonable, indeed essential, for charities to seek

subsidised support from PR agencies, but it must not be assumed or taken

for granted. What is needed is a relationship which aligns the values of

the agency with a particular charity so that both parties feel there’s a

benefit that goes beyond simple cash savings. Charities should recognise

that agencies are commercial beings and have to balance things.’

Julia Hobsbawm, Hobsbawm Macaulay

’Pro bono or reduced fees. But there is a delicate psychological balance

because a relationship is easier to manage if a charity can hold its

head up as a client, rather than go with a begging bowl. You can often

achieve more for a charity by offering a finite service for a small


John Williams, Fishburn Hedges

’I am in favour of fees being paid, but it is perfectly valid to

negotiate a reduction. If the client is paying, it can call the shots

and that’s healthy. Pro bono should be recognised as a different

relationship, where the agency has made an offer - volunteered - rather

than been persuaded to do something for nothing. Charities have a

different relationship with donors and suppliers. The danger if you

muddle it is that it’s less effective and professional.’

Laura Simons, Motor Neurone Disease Association

’The offer of a reduced fee should not be the criteria when you are

choosing an agency. Charities shouldn’t expect to be treated any

differently. We certainly have some contacts we might consult on a

one-off basis who would give us advice free of charge, but that’s very

different. It’s important to establish a working relationship with your

agency, and if they take the time to learn your business, you should


Janice Muir, Janice Muir Partnership

’Increasing competition means most charities are seeking higher levels

of professionalism in presentation and promotion. Some, flattered by the

attention of big name agencies, pay through the nose. Others, attracted

by ’special charity rates’, discover that low fees mean low service.

While professionalism costs money, fees buy not only service, but


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