19/08/10

By Robin Dhara, Red Robin

There’s a small revolution happening that will start to push the boundaries of PR.

Not only could it change the way you pay your agencies, but it could also incentivise your PR team, providing you’ve got the balls to propose it. Obviously, I wouldn’t expect everyone of you to consider it either — it’s just too risky.

A little over a year ago, I was interviewed in a business publication over a sea change taking place in the advertising industry. Advertising agencies weren’t just talking up other people’s products anymore but making their own.

Media fragmentation and diminishing attention spans have chipped away at the value of ad agencies’ 30 sec ad spots. This in turn has developed the small rush of agencies like Anomoly, Brooklyn Brothers and ad giant BBH’s sub company Zag actually resorting to invest their own resource into clients while developing their own products. This now includes creating introductions to investors and then into brands and working through all aspects of product development and marketing.

It got me thinking… we PR’s spend a lot of our time dealing with clients who have little to no budget and proposing “performance related pay”. Sometimes, this boils down to becoming a glorified salesman in some situations — getting paid cash for each editorial piece that gets published. Not quite a “greater picture/brand builder” image that we had in mind when we started this job.

While there is nothing wrong with this, it does make you wonder exactly how much value is put on the other introductions that we make to our clients. In the past three months alone friends of mine (all publicists) have introduced a music festival (not a client of mine) to approximately £1.2 million worth of financing, helped develop a drinks brands strategic partnership and worked with a major music company introducing a technology giant as a sponsor (no, they’re not a client either).

If we were lawyers or business advisors, would these introductions be taken with a bit more seriousness? Would there be a contract in place that outlined a different kind of pay related bonus? Not one that solely looked at coverage? Would this benefit the SME in any way?

There are pros and cons, of course. If you, like the rest of the world, are struggling with affording good, strong communications advice and only want to go for the best, then this might be a very good way of negotiating a workable relationship.

If you just want basic PR advice and execution, without the full bells and whistles of “other” introductions, then it’s probably not the best option for you.

It’s time that clients and agencies together developed better business relationships — actually thinking about the ways in which publicity people, who talk to more people than anyone, work even harder as they finally stop becoming conduits to talking heads and work towards building companies for their clients.


Adam Parker, Chief Executive of RealWire, will be speaking at Hit Me! An Introduction to Internet Marketing and Hit Me! Refresh, whether Online PR is the future of search engine optimisation. Adam will share examples of successful online PR campaigns and provide insight as to how, you can develop digital media strategies that will deliver positive business outcomes

Register now for £95 quoting FreshAugust - Book before 31st August and save £100!

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Video of Adam explaining how the online media world works and how it is the most powerful marketing force as far as the Internet is concerned. Extract from Hit Me! An Introduction to Internet Marketing Event, January 2009.