(Q) I am an experienced PR professional with a preference for internal communications. I left my job in March and after dealing with some family stuff for my elderly father, I am now resuming my job search. While I’m looking, I want to pick up some project work. In doing so, I’ve been asked what my hourly rate is. I’ve gotten conflicting information about what is standard for a senior-level internal communications professional and know that most work is paid on a project basis, not hourly. Can you help me with a standard hourly rate for this area? Do you have any guidance on a formula for
project-based rates as well? Help!—MCS, Burke
Dear MCS: This is a difficult thing to calculate, because there are so many variables. How much money do you want? How much do you need? How long will it take you? And of course, how much is the client willing to spend?
One way to respond is to ask the client first what they’re willing to pay, either on a project or an hourly basis. If it is the latter, be prepared to suggest how many hours it will take you. Then negotiate what you both think is a reasonable fee for your work. Often a flat fee is more comfortable to both the client and the freelancer than an hourly wage.
Another approach is to simply take your annual salary from your last job and break it down into a hourly wage, and then multiply it by a factor of two to three. That will help make up for the fact that you aren’t in a salaried position and will help cover “down times” between projects.
Ultimately, however, it all depends on how much money you believe you will need at this stage of your life, working on a part-time basis, and how much the client is willing to pay. Somewhere in between you will probably find an answer that will satisfy both of you. And it may lead to more project work, which we hope will result in full-time employment. Good luck!
The “PRofessor” is Fred Whiting, APR, Fellow, PRSA, a long-time PRSA-NCC member, chair of the Mentoring Committee and an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland and Hood College in Frederick. Fred will answer questions personally and publish some in the chapter’s website and blog.
Do you have a question about public relations? Ask the PRofessor! Submit your questions here or you can leave public questions/comments below.