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The Dangers of Pay-For-Performance PR Models

I saw a recent article from Mobile Marketing Watch talking about how paying PR firms for performance – compensating them a certain amount for every item they deliver – is a growing trend and gaining steam.  That might be true, but it’s concerning to me on multiple levels.

For one, this model is as old as PR is.  Trying to get the most out of a PR agency, or trying to get us to take all the risk in the business relationship, is nothing new.  It bugs me that people think this is some magic bullet concept – they’re obviously just now waking up to the realities of the industry we operate in.

Second, this model assumes that the only value that PR can bring to an organization is to generate media clips (or whatever else the firm would be compensated for delivering, but it’s usually clips).  That assumption is grossly limiting.  As I’ve loudly argued for some time now, PR is so much more than news releases and media clips.  It’s about working to understand an organization’s big-picture objectives, and then deploying the elements of communication that are best suited to achieve success against those objectives.  It’s about driving growth and moving the organizational needles that really matter – not just getting someone in the paper or on TV.  It’s about building a relationship with a client through which great counsel can be delivered and the best decisions can be made – not just executing on tactics.  And it’s all of these things much more today than it’s ever been before.

Game Changer’s clients agree with me.  That’s why they trust us, invite us into their most sensitive and strategic meetings and ask our opinion on matters related AND NOT related to communications.  As a result, we can deliver so much more: content assets produced, leads generated, sales closed, products launched, markets entered, stock price growth, business unit sales…and, oh yeah, media clips.

I’ll continue to work to fight this perception of PR people as one-trick ponies.  We have so much more to bring to the business world, and our clients deserve our best.

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