Considering my new career path and the many questions it throws up, especially among journalist/theatre friends, I thought it might be an idea to write a string of articles about PR – as people always seem to have questions! And yes, this is also a bit of shameless self-promotion… 😉
This new adventure is going really, really well. I’m not even going to begin to deny how frightened I was about going freelance, but I’m very pleased to report that, a couple of months in, I have plenty of interesting and exciting work, loads of new clients and, unsurprisingly, I’m not earning too badly from it either.
But I find the money side of all of this incredibly difficult. I come from a creative background, I’ve worked as an actor, a playwright and a theatre director, and I know how tough it is to make ends meet. I don’t think that PR work shouldn’t be paid for (I need to eat too!), but the current “industry norm” for a 3-4 week Off West End production seems to be hovering somewhere between £1000 and £1500 – and that seems excessive to me.
Then again, I’m a one man band – and I want to stay that way. I have no interest in employing anyone else or trying to expand into office space in central London (I already live in central London – what’s the point?). I set my prices (from £900 per show, from £300 per month ongoing) because I know that, if I work on 2-3 shows per month (and with a couple of ongoing clients), I can make a good living, support myself and my family – heck, even pay into a small private pension.
I’m not saying I don’t want to earn more, I just don’t want to increase my workload or pricing dramatically beyond the above. If I increased my workload, I reckon I’m just at that point where I wouldn’t be able to provide the service I want to without employing someone else, doing a slapdash job or spending less time with my family or on my other work and hobbies – none of which I’d like to compromise on. And if I increased my pricing, there are plenty of clients I work with (and like to work with) who wouldn’t be able to afford me – and I’d be uncomfortable about how much I was being paid in comparison to the rest of the team.
I’m even adding a new tier to my pricing structure, because it’s becoming increasingly clear that there’s parts of the industry that need PR support for short runs (under a week) or one-night-only events that simply aren’t being served – for shows running a week and under, including one-nighters, I’ll pitch from £600 from now on.
Just to be clear – I’m not saying that all PRs who charge over £1000 per show are overcharging (and £900 isn’t THAT much lower, in the grand scheme of things) – I’d just, personally, prefer to be aim to be affordable. It’s probably because I started off a creative – they’re my people, they’re the last people I want to feel like I’m fleecing.