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The PR-pricing paradox

We’ll let you in on a little secret in PR here: media-relations are not important! But the assumption of its importance, has created a PR-pricing paradox; do you pay your PR-agency by the work they do or by the coverage-results they get?

Clients are still asking; “what are your relationship with key-journalists?” and “please, provide a list of journalists, which are important to us.” And every time we still get a little puzzled about this outdated question and view on media-relations. Here is why:

The reality for most media today – at least in Denmark and the Nordics – is; 1) that there are fewer journalists to create more articles. This means journalists very often are changing positions and topics they cover. 2) That journalist are not writing stories because they had lunch with the PR-agency, but because it’s a good story.

The first reality is – in a digital world – quite easy to check up on. Who are the right journalists to target with your story? – what have they previously written and what are their current subjects they cover? That means the good ol’ medialist is not really gold, because it changes all the time. And that throwing a couple of names on journalists is a really poor judgement on how well an agency would know how to create coverage for your company.

The second reality brings us to the point of the PR-pricing paradox: It is not hard work to pitch a great story to a journalist. But it’s hard work to turn a boring story into a great story, journalists would want to write:

We are aware it is an untold secret within PR-agencies that you earn on clients with great stories and you lose on clients with boring stories – if we are talking purely media-relations. And though PR-agencies offer lots of other disciplines than media-relations, this still remains the bread and butter for most agencies.

But we also believe that as long as both clients and agencies admit to the “swings and carroussel” earnings on media-relations, we’ll keep getting the outdated questions on “how well we know the journalists”…

We would much rather face the pricing paradox in the open with clients with the following conclusions:

  • While reputation and coverage remains very important – media relations is not really important. If you present great stories, you get coverage, no matter the relationship.
  • Clients that only use agencies for media-relations could be wasting their money – or paying a lot of money for very little outcome
  • The real PR-work starts before the stories – crafting insights, strategy and messaging that produces great stories
  • And if you’re one of those companies that by nature has great stories, that fits the media-agenda and make awesome coverage with relatively little effort; then spend the extra time letting your agency review, which areas your communication that is less successful. Or save some money and deal with your media-relations internally.

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