UK top 50 a ‘cash cow’ for PR agencies, claims new research

The legal profession is a cash cow for public relation (PR) agencies, with UK Top 50 spending £3m annually on external PR advice, new research today claims.

The research, carried out by Legal News Service (LNS), shows that those firms that regularly instruct an external agency can spend up to up to more than £150,000 a year on public relations (PR).

Senior marketing executives across The Lawyer UK Top 50 were quizzed about their use of external agencies. Of the 42 who responded, a massive 82 per cent said they would instruct an external PR or consultant, with 70 per cent of that group saying they instruct agencies on an hourly basis.

More than half (54 per cent) of respondents said they would spend annually between £50,000 and £100,000 on agency support, while a further 12 per cent estimated that external PR spend was between £100,000 and £150,000. The research also found that 8 per cent of respondents spent more than £150,000 annually on agency support.

LNS director Bob Bion, said: “For PR agencies spending the majority of their time drafting and distributing press releases – which is essentially a straightforward process – the legal profession is a multi-million pound cash cow.”

Nearly half of PR agencies are instructed to draft and distribute press releases, the survey found, with respondents saying they were willing to pay up to £700 a day for such services.

Of those respondents who did not regularly instruct an agency 18 per cent said it was because PR was handled in-house, while 20 per cent cited budget constraints.

“Firms are spending thousands of pounds every week on very basic PR services.,” Bion said.

“To stay relevant, the market needs to evolve – at the moment it is too easy for PR agencies to charge high fees for really not doing much. It is no surprise that law firms are concerned about how much they are being charged. Over the last decade we have seen a movement towards the commoditisation of many professional services to make them more cost-effective.”