How Diligently Tracking PR Agency Time Brings Insights

There seems to be a debate out there about how closely PR pros should track their hours, whether they should charge clients for every single hour, should they use the retainer model or do a hybrid of both.  According to Ken Jacobs and George Rosenberg regardless of how you bill your clients, your time tracking must be as accurate and inclusive as possible.  Gini Dietrich writes about how these PR gurus, in a recent workshop on profitability in PR, point out the value of understanding exactly how long it takes to do something and how much time is actually allocated to different tasks and clients.  This information is essential for planning, making adjustments and increasing profits.  It is so easy to slack off on tracking hours, just doing it when it is convenient.  So take this as a gentle reminder, that tracking hours accurately is extremely important to the success of your agency.time tracking image

Gini’s post goes on to point out how to use time tracking to make smarter budget predictions, and it shows the steps required to accurately determine projected client billing.  For most PR pros (especially those of us that don’t particularly love math) this post is very helpful.  How would you like a better understanding of which clients are profitable and which ones aren’t?  How about better insight on how to create a realistic budget for a new client – one that you won’t exceed?  Wouldn’t it also be helpful to know how the PR staff’s time is spent each day, and which PR activities are most effective?  If these are insights you need but don’t have, then I suggest putting more attention toward tracking hours.

Once you start looking at time tracking as an important and valuable tool, then you can apply your new insights to make well-informed business decisions and make adjustments.  If you find out that one client in particular is dominating the hours of your staff and their budget doesn’t coincide, then it is time to take some sort of action.  You may need to recommend a different approach to the client that demands less time, or adjust the budget for next year to more closely reflect the number of hours spent.  Addressing the issue may be difficult, but avoid it and your agency and staff will pay.

Knowing the true number of hours spent per client is eye opening.  Don’t we all think that it takes us less time to accomplish a task than it really does?

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