Price guide published by PR body

The Middle East Public Relations Association has released its guide for what agencies should charge clients for the services of its staff, as part of its bid to make the regional PR industry more transparent.

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By  Steve Wrelton Published  June 25, 2006

The Middle East Public Relations Association has released its guide for what agencies should charge clients for the services of its staff, as part of its bid to make the regional PR industry more transparent. The guide includes a six-tier hourly price structure, which is based on the findings of a survey of MEPRA members on what they charge clients for their staff. The charges range from US$40 to US$75 an hour for administration, up to US$250 to US$300 an hour for the services of an agency’s managing director. For crisis management the rates for PR services should double, MEPRA says. Sadri Barrage, chairman of MEPRA and managing director of Headline PR in Dubai, said that the guide had been put together because of a growing need for greater knowledge about the industry, and to help raise professional standards. He said: “We hope that this simple guide to agency billing practices helps to demystify PR agency rates for clients and provides some guidelines for new and growing PR agencies in the region.” The organisation previously stated the move was not an attempt to set prices, but in the report it states: “The intention is that it will give clients a clear idea on how much they should be paying.” Barrage said that he did not expect to see agencies adopting uniform hourly rates simply on the basis of the report. “MEPRA understands that different agencies have different offerings, diverse specialisations and distinct benefits to offer and so variations in rates are the market norm,” he said. “The objective of this guide is not to force compliance among MEPRA member agencies and, as a matter of fact, these rates are based on current charges by agencies operating in the region. However, MEPRA does recommend broad ranges of PR fee levels and we hope that the guide will serve to create better understanding of agency billing practices overall.” The rates outlined in MEPRA’s nine-page document are not binding and some companies are sceptical about the guide’s usefulness. Cem Arikoler, regional director at Promax and chairman of the rival Arabian Business Communicators Association, said the guide was “unbelievable”. “Are all MEPRA members going to implement this? That means there’s going to be no competition,” he said. “Are all agencies of different sizes going to charge the same? It’s a joke, it’s Middle Ages stuff. Throw it in the trash.” Nidal Abou Zaki, managing director at Orient Planet PR in Dubai, which is not a MEPRA member, said that while he welcomed the guide as a step forward, he was unclear about how widely it would be used. “In theory it’s a good step towards regulating the industry. However, I do not know the level of commitment the companies will follow,” he said.

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