Why PR Agencies Fear the PAY FOR PERFORMANCE PR Model

Author: DJ

Here it is again! Another article about Pay-for-Performance PR that defines how little our profession knows about it or why they constantly spew a narrative based on fear instead of fact.

One of the big lessons of journalism is if you are going to write about a topic, make sure you do your due diligence and actually research the topic.

So here it is folks! Just a moment…wait for the drumroll…actually, there is no drumroll because it is not rocket science, but allow me to address the concerns that the author of this article points out in their piece:

I. PRSA CODE of ETHICS —forbids promising results out of the practitioner’s immediate control.

Pay for Performance PR is not a violation of PR Ethics unless you guarantee your client you will secure media coverage. There is no “pay-to-play” involved in the Pay for Performance PR model. We don’t pay journalists and producers to cover your product, service or your CEO. Now, that would be unethical and you should steer clear of an agency that does.

II. DEVALUES EXPERT ADVICE AND COUNSEL — The article states that, “One big reason companies hire PR firms and counselors is for counsel. Pay for play models don’t take into account the incredible value of just knowing cool stuff about the media and the world that clients can use to reap untold fortunes. In the knowledge economy, knowledge is a great way to get paid.

There have been many agencies fired for their counsel but not many are fired for delivering results when it comes to press coverage. Once again, there’s that play on words, equating “pay for play” to “pay for performance” but then the mention of “knowing cool stuff about the media and the world that clients can use to reap untold fortunes.”

” What!??? That’s a lot of Jibber Jabber!”
In our Pay-for-Performance model, we call that BS.”

-Ryan Gerding, President of INK inc PR

The only thing the journalist or producer cares about is simple things like:

Is the product or service different and one that their readers/viewers/listeners will find interesting? Is it timely?
What problems do you solve that will interest my readers/viewers/listeners?
Have we recently covered it?
Anything unique in your corporate culture that drives your success?
Do you have customers that will talk to us?
Do you have multiple experts in your organization we can talk with if needed?
Do you have supporting data?
Do you have great visual assets in hi-res of the product(s) by themselves or in use or B-roll footage?
Reliability of the spokesperson & source (Tip: Usually when it comes to broadcast, the reporter/producer will conduct a pre-interview?)
Also, when it comes to selecting media targets, you need to know who your audience is so we can select the media outlets that will benefit you the most in reaching your customer. Other key factors to consider in the way we determine media outlets is to know:

Is your customer expanding based on products and services?
Specific regions you serve and expansion into others?
Is your product or service seasonal?
Will you disclose financial information? (this matters in some national business outlets)
Have you been featured before in any media?
Media Relations experts, research media and select outlets based on the information the client provides and the goals they want to attain in building visibility. A seasoned media relations expert will caution you against the overuse of press releases as a tool to get you covered in the media. Identify newsworthy angles is more effective than sending out countless press releases.

“ Pay for Performance agencies have one advantage going for them, many of their media specialists are former reporters, producers, and journalists that have crossed over to the PR side and know how to identify what is newsworthy about a client. Experience is important!“  -Dick Grove, CEO of INK inc PR

III. Makes the PR process tactical — This is real business strategy stuff, real strategic messaging work and really powerful “how you should operate your business” level planning and execution. To limit it to a pay for play model really changes the client’s thinking about the profession. And as hard as PR has worked to “get a seat at the table” I’d rather not sit next to the many tacticians out there who are only interested in this month’s search rankings and sales funnel.

What remains true, is an article written by a journalist will be presented in an unbiased manner and is equivalent to a third-party endorsement. It can appear in multiple mediums.

The value of the ranking comes with the media outlet, the authority of the writer and how the journalists share it as well as how the client utilizes it. The value of a press piece does not end when it appears in the media…you need to leverage that article to get the most out of it. You can check out our tips here.

Remember that Media coverage can shape public opinion and provides information that is newsworthy. It has nothing to do with how your PR Agency bills you.

IV. ALL PR is Pay for Performance— you don’t perform, you lose the client.

This is true. However, the Pay-for-Performance PR model actually shares the risk with the client when it comes to securing press coverage. You could end up paying more for success but less if there is no success. Something to think about when considering a PR agency in 2019. Can you say the same about a traditional agency?

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