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Why I don't do payment based on results PR

I had a potential client ask me the other week whether I offered a service where they could pay based on results and numbers of articles published. The answer was a very swift no. This has nothing to do with my confidence at securing coverage and more to do with the fact that unlike advertising PR is known as earned media so you can’t guarantee coverage unlike an ad where you pay for a space on a set day. Secondly because you can be told a piece will be in but if something big happens your story can disappear into an abyss never to resurface (especially if it is time sensitive). Finally, because one piece of coverage can involve a huge amount of work.

An example of the level of work involved is recently I secured a great piece of coverage in Metro online for a client. For those that don’t know, Metro gets 23.7 million unique views per month which is a massive audience, so I was really pleased as was the client. But getting the piece out there to the public took months of work.

Initially the client came to me with somebody that she thought had a strong story. I spent an hour or so doing an interview on the phone with them, making notes and asking a lot of questions to ensure I got all the details and my facts right. I ended the interview with about 10 pages of notes.

Obviously 10 pages of notes is a lot and for a press release or pitch you tend to keep copy to two pages, so I had to go through my notes and pick out the main points to create a two-page press release. This was then sent to the client and the interviewee for changes and/or approval.

Once the release was signed off, I did some research around who had written about the topic before, which journalists and publications would be best to approach and got approval from that case study that she was happy to share with the outlined publications and then pitched the story.

Once Metro came back saying they wanted to do a piece I consulted with the interviewee and journalist to arrange for them to speak and then went back and forth getting copy approval and amends. The process started in June and the interview was published on 29th October, that’s a total of five months work, which hopefully explains why I don’t work based on results.

The results don’t take into account all the effort that sometimes goes into getting a company or organisation seen and heard. They don’t show the writing, the interviewing, the liaising, the changes, the negotiations, the numerous pitches, the rejections and so much more.

For the record, an ad with Metro online would cost £1000’s.

You can read the piece here.

Do you ever do payment by results and if so is that the norm in your industry?

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