Do You Get Paid Per Hit?

December 4, 2007

We just came across this question on LinkedIn:

My business, <name removed> has been working with a small PR firm for the past 2 years on a ‘fee per placement’ agreement. I have a line of new products and they would like to change this structure to a monthly retainer. Does moving to a monthly retainer make sense and how do I know what is reasonable to pay on a monthly basis?

Ok, so asking how much a monthly retainer one should pay, based on scope of work needed, is a totally reasonable question. But, we always cringe when we hear of firms who offer a “pay per hit” arrangement.  What would you say when put in this situation?  Tell the potential client to skee-daddle, sign ‘em up, or somewhere in between?

WPP Group CEO Martin Sorrell (image cred)

We’ve been thinking a lot about the Dell/WPP Group deal and what it means for the future of integrated communications.  Just the sheer size of the project: $4.5 billion and over 1,000 employees is almost unfathomable.  However, as we scanned through commentary on the web, or lack thereof, we were intrigued by this post on the O’Dwyer PR blog, which referenced Dell’s announcement and then said:

Bank of America may soon nail another coffin in the holding company structure. Its contract with Omnicom expires March 31. BoA has put some of OMC’s media-buying responsibilities up for review because it no longer wants to be held hostage to Omnicom’s shops.

The holding company structure is bound to unravel in `08. That will create big opportunities for nimble PR firms.

Then this got us back to thinking about a post from Jeremy Pepper back in October where he wrote:

The reality is that the holding companies do not care who gets the cash. It’s money in pocket and bottom line, and if advertising can get bigger bucks for campaigns, it’s better to go to advertising.

While Pepper’s post was in a different context – he was arguing that ad folk now how to sell themselves better and therefore can get bigger budgets than their PR counterparts – the theme relates to Dell/WPP. 

Is an advantage of creating your own agency that hopefully you will eliminate some of the infighting between different groups within a holding company? And if so, do you agree with Kevin McCauley of O’Dwyers that one of the big trends of 2008 will be the decline of the holding company model?

Spin the Agencies of Record

December 3, 2007


(image from HoodEz)

This is the first edition of what we’re calling ‘Spin the Agencies of Record,’ a look the most recent account wins in the industry. We’ll be looking not only at Agency of Record (AoR) agreements but projects as well. Send us your account news to prnewser at mediabistro dot com.

This edition ranges from the global to the nichy-niche:

  • HoodEz, maker of custom hood ornaments, chooses Sawmill Marketing Public Relations
  • MWW to represent Asolva, a medical technology company
  • BMC software to use Ogilvy for PR in India
  • Ritchey Design Inc., maker of high-end bicycle components, chooses SOAR Communications
  • Panda Security (IT company) chooses the Bateman Group

Stephanie Kirchgaessner of the Financial Times takes a close look at the powerhouse of WPP agencies in Washington. It’s a must read for today, however we dissect some key quotes below so you don’t have to.

Read the rest of this entry »


Earlier this week the Australian firm Markson Sparks caught a bit of flak for macabre humor in a press release on behalf of recruiting company PKL. The release explained the perils of being of a personal assistant, quipping that 45 of Oprah’s staffers have died from anthrax attacks. Apparently the joke was lifted directly from a blog.

This isn’t the first time this year a press release with a death hook was used. See BlinnPR’s now classic Anna Nicole tie-in from February. This one looked to be more of a mishap. Markson is a big Aussie firm with a lot of celebrity clients, and a thriving speakers bureau division. They can dish and move on. Read more about anthrax in the news in O’Dwyers.

We contacted agency head Rolene Markson to find out more:

Read the rest of this entry »


(This photo is not of BlabberMouth PR’s Patti Hill)

The “seriously fun” BlabberMouth PR agency launched CameronWeeks PR to address the needs of its more staid clients in IT, biotech, and economic development, according to a press release.

BlabberMouth polled an astonishing 10,000 executives on the question of its quirky name, and received a more astonishing 50% response. The results showed people in fields such as fashion, retail, gaming and advertising preferred the BlabberMouth name, while executives in other fields prefered something more classic. According to the poll:

  • 55% of executives enjoyed the name
  • 30% would work with BlabberMouth “in spite of its name”
  • 15% “would avoid working with a professional services firm called BlabberMouth”

When we asked the top BlabberMouth, CEO Patti Hill how she got such a large response, she told us “The survey only had one question. I had many, many people email me personally saying they couldn’t walk away from the survey out curiosity what that *one* question might be.”

BlabberMouth used ConstantContact to conduct the survey, and amassed the database through six years of conferences, summits, and board positions.

A sampling of the emails Hill received are after the jump:

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Taking cues on name-dropping from page 12 of the Gawker Guide, I asked Choire Sicha as part of our ongoing Gawker on PR series if he felt–collectively–that Gawker is the J.J. Hunsecker of this century. Rather than run with the baited comparison to Hunsecker–the Walter Winchell character in The Sweet Smell of Success played by Burt Lancaster–he chose to talk about the history of the film, and what lingers from the era of the blacklist. Skip football and rent it this weekend. The flack to Lancaster’s Hunsecker is Tony Curtis’s Sidney Falco, the scrappiest, most bare-knuckle PR person ever portrayed on film. We won’t spoil it for you, but it doesn’t end like Michael Clayton.

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Retainer or hours? Neither.

It appears pay-per-placement shop Publicity Guaranteed placed itself in the Times this morning, in effort to collect on a $43,000 invoice from online gambling client

Publicity Guaranteed charges $2,850 for a placement in a 500,000+ circ paper. PRNewser wonders if PG should pay itself, or re-submit the invoice to AbsolutePoker for $45,850. We’ll look in to this further, though the company looks completely different than the oldest-school NAPS, which places cartoony, camera-ready ads in penny saver newspapers and calls them “releases”.


We solicited a few opinions from PR execs on the value of Michael’s in response to our Gawker series post this morning. Richard Laermer CEO of RLM PR, author of Full Frontal PR, Punk Marketing, and Bad Pitch blogger finds it ‘super important’ for schmoozing with his agent, though the ‘dead tree’ types left a bad taste, despite the bisque:

I actually used to spend a lot of time gazing into the eyes of the anchors who dine there while I did my publishing deals and met my hilarious agent. Nowadays I go to so few places for lunch because, well, I’m freakin busy!

Years ago the content head for AOL asked me to go to Michael’s with her to observe the ridiculousness of the hushed conversations. We had a grand time (old pals) just dissing the mood. Meanwhile, I realized that this was really in many ways like some old tradition where the media elite broke bread (well really not, anti-carb and all, ha!) and spoke about where they hoped their careers were taking them. But…

It was only two years ago and still I caught the irony of a lot of dead-tree types talking about books and broadcast TV and magazines that were about to be redesigned for the millionth time (and uh a few high level newspaper people who were about to head off a cliff with readership drops)… And I thought to myself: “Why aren’t you all tearing off your ties and doing some hard work?

Why is the publisher of Teen People guffawing loudly when it was obvious [to me] that the teens she used to have a hold on are now on networking sites that give them more gossip on (then star) Hartnett than anything they could bother covering with a long lead time?”

Then they brought the lobster bisque and forgot what I was going on about in my head.

Brits know how to ski? While soccer is the sport of choice our friends across the pond are also serious about their winter sports. And not only has Weber Shandwick begun to publicize Snowsport GB ‘s showing in the International Ski Federation World Cup and Europa Cup, they’re even having an effect on the team:

Mark Simmers, chief executive of Snowsport GB, the trading name of the British Ski and Snowboard Federation, said: “The opportunities Weber Shandwick can create for us, not to mention their enthusiasm, have given the team a boost – and can put them at the top of their game.”

Now if that ain’t a perfect quote for the latest round of the agency’s sales materials, we don’t know what is. However, after the postponement of several races last year because of high temperatures and little snow-pack, how long will the snow last in the Alps?


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