Inevitably, aside from a handful of established practitioners, these services tend to proliferate in recessionary times.
Many pay-as-we-plug services are spawned by newly unemployed journalists looking for a quick transition to a related media industry. Setting up as one-man bands, they offer solutions based on knowledge gained from their past professions and a pledge to cut through PR excesses.
Results-only PR flatters to provide obvious and cost-effective answers to simple questions. Why pay for high-sounding PR-speak and all that strategising when all you want is media coverage?
It is a seductive line of reasoning but often fails to provide the solution offered by the sales pitch. I know of many such arrangements that have descended into unseemly rows about how a certain ‘name check’ came to appear in a certain publication.
Others have ended in tears about derogatory product mentions when the client is presented with an invoice from the results-only practitioners, who appear to believe any mention constitutes good publicity.
Scales of charges can also cause endless ructions with client and promoter falling out over what constitutes a feature and what is ‘only’ a news story.
I also happen to believe results-only PR, while having a limited useful application, tends to undermine the skills base of the PR industry. The essence of good public relations – of which media placement is a key element – is control and strategy.
Both are based on a trusting long-term relationship between PRO and client. A crucial part of what the client is paying for is the careful and skilled long-term maintenance of strong media relationships.
Results are what good PROs deal in. But they are achieved through the strategic interfacing of client and media, and not through quick fixes.
Ian Monk is founder of Ian Monk Associates and a former executive at the Daily Mail and The Sun