You Get What You Pay For

moneymoneyM Communications was recently hired to do all of the copy editing and writing for all of a local company’s marketing clients (sweet). One of the articles we just wrote had to do with SEO and how you truly get what you pay for. I have known this for years and am reminded on occasion, especially when writing an article like yesterday. One particular occurrence that happened a couple of years ago, was when I had a phone conference with a doctor who wanted me to do PR for her new project. She later called me back to let me know that she hired her “webmaster” to do her PR for her. I was absolutely baffled. Most web programmers know code, not producers in New York. Needless to say, I never did see her on television or hear her on a radio interview. This is a perfect example of why you should not go the cheap route. Since there is an apparently a huge cloud of mystery surrounding PR, below are a few things to keep in mind when looking for the “right” publicist … and no, do not hire your webmaster.

Experience counts. Yes. I may be repeat-story teller here, but do not hire your webmaster to do your PR!  When looking to hire a publicist, ask what their market experience is or if they have a particular niche- most publicists cannot do PR in EVERY industry and they tend to gravitate towards market areas they are passionate about and interested in. For example, I personally do not do technology-related media work. It would be an absolute snoozefest for me and it is not cool to fall asleep when you are on the phone with a producer. It goes against the “smile and dial” follow up that publicists do as part of their job. Also, ask about their track record. You want to know what media outlets they have placed their clients on. It’s a simple question that most likely a webmaster cannot answer (yes, I know I need to get over this). You can also ask your publicist for references too and hear about their track record directly from the horse’s mouth. My point? Ask questions before you invest.


Typical costs. There are three different pricing models when it comes to hiring a publicist/PR firm. There is the hourly model (me), retainer model and project-by-project. Here is a little more information. The hourly model is a flat rate per hour, and depending on the market area you are looking at anywhere between $75 – $200 per hour. Hours depend on your project – for example, a fashion campaign in the local L.A. area or a national fashion campaign – and yes, if you are into fashion you know there are a ton of fashion media outlets nationally. The good thing about the hourly model is that it is based on your market niche and the exact targeted media ion the area. (This is where it comes in handy to ask what subject matter a publicist covers). Retainer models can range from 2K – 5K per month. You typically sign a contract for 3, 6, or 12 months and you pay a fee per month, whether your publicist is putting in 5 hours or 20 hours. In this case, you are hoping for 20 hours plus, but you will rarely know. Last, there is the project-by-project model. For example, if you wanted to do a PR damage control campaign, because a certain national homebuilder was building houses that were leaking. Unfortunately, I am not making this up and I can’t put a price tag on that one. Project-by-project could be 10K to … the sky is the limit.


It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Public relations boils down to one indisputable fact – personal relationships. In my local market, I am on a text message basis with most reporters and producers; and as a result sometimes I get a little bit lazy. I send a text to a reporter about a story, they say “yay” or “nay” about running it and that text convo morphs into a where we are doing happy hour convo or can you please buy me a Gucci bag when you are in New York convo. A week later, I get an email asking where the press release is (the drill if you do not know is Step 1. Write press release, Step 2. Send into news station, you get where I am going with this, right?) and then realize I did not write it yet or send it in, because I was excited about the 1/2 off sweet potato fries appetizer. Now, this is not typically norm in all markets, but that is where my handy-dandy subscription to Vocus comes in. If you are not familiar with Vocus, access to this database costs as much as a kidney on the black market (I am really just kidding here – no idea what the going rate for kidneys are) and the benefit is that I can pull up any producer/editor/reporter at any media outlet in the country. Or, I can pull up by subject matter. For example, for anyone who reports on health in New York, the database will pull up every relative reporter for every magazine, television station, radio, newspaper, blogs and much more. Targeted is an understatement here, but without access to Vocus I would not have a stellar PR record in various markets throughout the US. Vocus is another reason why most publicists get irritated when you ask them for their contacts. I personally do not know whether to charge someone for asking a stupid question or charging them a fee to put towards my renewal.  Anyway, it does boil down to who you know – knowing process is not enough.


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