Ever wonder how much it might cost to properly promote a book or one big initiative? Let’s say you’ve written a book and plan to self-publish it using print-on-demand technology. You’ve worked hard to write the book, have paid a professional graphic designer to layout the interior and create a great-looking cover, and paid a freelance editor to fine-tune the manuscript before it goes into production.  The books will be available in about three weeks. Will posting it on Amazon be enough to garner the attention you deserve? Will you reach all the people you hope to help?

Perhaps you’ve planned a big financial literacy event to coincide with Financial Literacy Month in April 2012. The FDIC is sending a speaker, the mayor has signed a proclamation signifying the city’s support, an officer from the police department has agreed to do a presentation on how to prevent identity theft, a consortium of business people and teachers are inviting colleagues and students to attend, and the local university is offering free use of a campus auditorium and their audio/visual crew. What’s the best way to get the media involved? And if you will be the spokesperson, are you fully prepared to represent the event and embody the message?

Given the importance of the two scenarios, you may decide it makes sense to work with a PR firm. You have a lot at stake and should make the most of things.

As a quick recap, there are five basic structures for working with a PR firm:

1.  Retainer Plans

2.  Hourly Service Plans

3.  Project Work Plans

4.  Pay-for-Placement Fees

5.  Group Training and Empowerment Programs

Last week, I told you everything you ever wanted to know about working with a PR firm on an hourly basis. This week, we'll talk about Project Work Plans.


A project work plan may be the best choice for you if you have a big initiative or one-time event that you’d like to promote. PR firms are, for instance, typically hired by book authors or book publishing firms to generate buzz when a new title comes out. Organizations such as NAPFA or FPA chapters will sometimes promote community service events, such as Financial Planning Week or the Money Bus coming to town, through a focused PR campaign based on a project work plan.

Peggy Rouillier, CFP, is an advisor who has benefited from one big publicity initiative. Peggy co-authored a book called “Plan of Action: Strategies to Help You Build and Preserve Wealth” with several other financial advisors who all share the same broker/dealer relationship. The group decided to hire a PR firm to help them write, produce and publicize the book. Key objectives were slightly different for each of the co-authors but almost all of them would agree that positioning themselves as experts and having “the ultimate calling card” – a book with their name on the cover – was a compelling enough to spend the a good amount of time and money on the project.

Before the book’s publication and promotion, Peggy looked good online. Now she looks like an even more significant professional, with a book to her name, related news releases visible online, and an article published by the Financial Planning Association in their Practice Management Solutions magazine.

In the current environment of public skepticism, it is important to work actively to create and manage a positive perception of you. When you Google Peggy now, here’s what you see.

Notice how the Amazon book listing and the corresponding article she had published by the FPA create a nice “wow” factor:

·      Amazon book listing

·      Rouillier bylined article

If you ask a PR firm for a project work plan, you will need to be able to clearly define the starting and ending points of the campaign, your goals, objectives, and key deliverables. For instance, Peggy Rouillier’s group requested a one-year work plan that included the following deliverables:

·      Media training for the group

·      Professional copywriting, editing, graphic design, project management and production of the book

·      Compliance submission and revisions

·      Each co-author to have own customized book jacket and set up on Amazon

·      Each co-author to have 200 customized books sent to their offices along with 300 professionally designed and customized bookmarks

·      Master news release about the book and the collaborative group to be created and distributed on PRNewswire and through other secondary means to both national consumer media and industry media lists

·      Each co-author to have own customized news release and a localized media list so they could do their own local pitching

·      Electronic suite of professionally designed files so each co-author could produce locally as needed:

o   Flyers about the book or book signings

o   Signage about the book or book signings

o   “Compliments of so-and-so” stickers for inside book

o   Poster promoting the author and the book

o   News releases and Media Alerts

o   Mock up for lacquered plaque production

o   Media interview tips sheets and talking point reminders

o   Step-by-step instructions on how to implement PR Plan on a local basis

The project plan took approximately one year and $100,000 to complete. Installment payments were made by each co-author as project benchmarks were met. The broker/dealer also contributed a chapter from one of their executives and provided a dedicated marketing communications staff member who served as project liaison. 

With a clearly defined vision, a solo book author might expect a professional PR firm to provide a four-month book promotion and PR work plan (no collateral materials or book creation services included) with a $16,000-20,000 price tag.

The reason a Project Work Plan was the perfect solution for the scenario outlined above:

·      Ability to define the scope of the work

·      Ability to define the beginning, middle and end of the project

·      Ability to know hard costs ahead of time

·      Ability to budget for and adhere to a payment schedule

·      Ability to schedule and budget the advisor’s time

·      Ability to see tangible results

·      Ability to measure intangible benefits

·      Ability to work with dedicated team of PR professionals over a set period of time

Disadvantages to any Project Work Plan:

·      Extra fees for extra services not included in the original work plan

·      Not as flexible as hourly or retainer plans

·      May not include all the bells and whistles you’d like


In the coming weeks, we’ll discuss the two remaining options for working with a PR firm and/or doing some of the work on your own. I’ll also provide answers to some of the questions posed to me when I speak at industry conferences about public relations for financial advisors.

If you have additional questions, the best way to get them to me is to post them as a “comment” right here on The Marketing Maven blog. I’ll try to address them in a future column.


Leia Farmer, Deputy Chief Compliance Officer for Securities America, and I spoke with an enthusiastic group of financial advisors on Friday, July 15th, 2011.  If you missed that session live, you can download the slides and audio recording of Building Your Online Presence in a Smart, Compliant Way at: http://www.marieswift.com/.


As president and CEO of Impact Communications, Inc., Marie leads a dedicated team of marketing communications and PR professionals serving financial institutions and a select group of independent advisors on an exclusive basis. Marie can be reached through her website, www.ImpactCommunications.org.