Friday, January 19, 2007

Pay For Performance 

A colleague sent me an opinion piece yesterday written by a PR practitioner who wants pay-for-performance in the PR industry. It was interesting. The author of the essay, David B. Oates, APR; Principal, Stalwart Communications, made the following statement.

PR firms will need to consider operating on a "Pay-for-Performance" rate structure as our industry continues to evolve. This model is one that aligns a significant portion of a client's fees to actual results, such as securing article placement or speaking opportunities, industry award recognition or sales lead generation.

I agree with Mr. Oates to a point, but that point isn't as far down the road as Mr. Oates might make it. My concern is based work our firm has been doing. Much of what we have been handling is crisis communications. In a crisis, one doesn't want to be rewarded for article placement and speaking opportunities but for just the opposite. How does one measure a negative?

Mr. Oates is thinking, of course, of marketing PR in which gaining awareness is the goal. Most PR activity today is marketing, but not all of it. I happen to work in a part of the field that appears to be an exception to Mr. Oates' point of view.

There is another area as well that doesn't quite fit into Mr. Oates' argument -- corporate positioning. For those who don't work in this area, corporate positioning instills and maintains a correct perspective of a company. Targets for much of this work are shareholders, present and prospective employees, governments and other influentials, including customers. In this part of the PR business, one wants publicity, but it needs to be the right kind in the right business publication, and it takes time, sometimes months, before one can build a case and persuade reporters to consider it. Think of Walmart's struggles to correct perceptions about how it operates.

PR is a broad field with many types of counseling. It's not just marketing, but in today's sales-driven environment, it is difficult to remember that.


Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?