I have some bad news for you. If you're looking for the exact dollar amount you should spend on public relations, you won't find it here. Why? Because your decision will be based on what you're trying to achieve and how much money you have to spend on accomplishing that goal.
If you are looking for a numerical figure, Pattie Simone on Entrepreneur states, "A general rule of thumb is to plan on investing at least 10 percent of your gross annual income in marketing." So, if you are expecting to make $70,000, then you would set aside $7,000 for marketing--which will include all your PR needs.
The problem with that tactic is that "it positions the marketing budget as an expense, and marketing as a cost center." Instead, you should view PR as an investment and base how much to spend on it by what you're getting in return.
For example, if you're using your marketing budget to gain traffic to your website, then base your return around the amount of inbound links and conversations brought to your site because of the PR. You should also be asking questions like:
In short, if you're making money off of PR--because it's increasing traffic and boosting sales-- then you would want to continue to increase that budget until it plateaus.
But, it's just not about improving traffic and sales, PR is also used for releasing news about your business or promoting an upcoming event. For example, if you just released a new app, and want to get the word out, then you would send out a press release. If you're hosting an industry event, then you would rely on PR to sell tickets.
Regardless of the exact scenario, there will be times when you don't have to spend a large chunk of your budget for marketing. In fact, you may be able to do some of it on your own. It just depends on the scale of your promotion.
Ciara Prassler suggests on the Huffington Post that you should consider the following:
Public relations doesn't come cheap, which is why a talented writer might be better served composing a press release or event annoncement themselves. However, if you do need some help in the PR department, consider hiring a freelancer. You may not need to have a full-time copywriter or publicist or photographer, but you could call on them when needed.
If you are interested in doing PR in-house, then take the advice of Brittany Berger on Business 2 Community and use the following free PR tools:
Technorati--You could use this blog directory to share content, by locate relevant blogs to connect with.
HARO --Have your business featured in a news article by becoming an industry expert for a journalist.
Twitter Lists--Create relevant Twitter lists to connect with journalists and industry leaders.
Google Alerts--It can be used to track results.
Then I highly recommend that you review the Creative Genius HubPage by Brian Scott. There's a lengthy list of the top free press release sites, as well as tips on how to optimize your press release and an overview of the submission process.