Last week I posted an inquiry on www.Linkedin.com asking marketing and PR professionals if agencies should charge for admin expenses.

I received several dozen responses from the Silicon Valley to England to the Middle East.

Although larger traditional agencies continue to charge their clients for basic phone calls, copying, faxing, mailing etc., most were a big fan of not nickel and dime their clients. There was also an overwhelming agreement that travel, media services and other expenses beyond admin should be billed. I’m pleased to say that www.lmgpr.com has never charged our clients for admin fees. To me this just makes common sense. Why would I charge a client to make a phone call if I need to make the call to do my job? I always caution people looking to hire a new agency to look for hidden expenses. Likewise, we don’t charge our clients for our annual subscription fees for services like www.catchpole.com or www.cision.com also known as media map. . Charging for detailed media analysis yes but not for the database that’s being used to create them. These are key tools we use on a daily bases horizontally. It would be like a restaurant charging you for their electricity bill for you to eat your dinner. We encourage our clients to use www.filtrbox.com, a great news monitoring service we use but is intuitive and affordable for our clients too. I’ve heard of some proposals charging clients for gas, mileage and in- person meeting costs. Again, these are operational costs that should be absorbed by your agency.

We work with many early stage companies, as a result an all inclusive PR program is key. Our larger clients often want to spend additional funds on press dinners, press tours and gifts. These prices are always discussed up front. No hidden cost is our best practice. We work on project or retainer fees too. We always recommend retainer for those wanting a long term relationship allowing us to be more aggressive on the pricing long term.

Here’s the LMGPR Rules to Avoiding Extended PR Costs

-Don’t charge for admin expenses such as phones, copies, mailing
-Don’t pay for subscription fees such as media monitoring services
-Don’t pay for gas, mileage or other transportation fees unless its long distance travel
-Don’t pay for senior talent fees if a junior person is doing the work
-Don’t pay for time your agency uses to create invoices
-Be up front in your request for proposal