IPRA, the International Public Relations Association, amongst the services it offers to its 1000 plus members, has an ongoing Yahoo discussion group. Normally, this is used by members to inquire if peers may suggest names of consultants or agencies on a specific topic or in a specific country…Sometimes a member has a query on methods, approaches or applications he wishes to bounce off the minds of peers. More often it is a tool to inform members that one has left this world.The other day I received this from a new member:
Hello, I’m a new IPRA member; nice to meet you all. For the past 6+ years I’ve been matching companies with PR firms worldwide. Most of the PR firms are in the US, Europe and Asia with a sprinkling in Eastern Europe, Russia and So. America.After an extensive search, I provide you/your client with a hot list. I walk you through the process of choosing a firm from first how-do-you-do call to proposals, negotiations, etc. After the signing, I continue to monitor the progress of the account and am as involved as both sides require.
My matches are gratis to you and your client. Transparency: I am eventually paid a commission by the PR firm of your choice.
Academic/business media PR searches are interesting because of their dual-prong nature. I take it your client will want to get into BusinessWeek’s B-School ranking at some stage or at the very least, move up in the rankings. I have just completed a match for a company that will enter the US university market, but aimed at students, rather than the business media. Their PR firm got them into one of the journals on their “wish list” in less than 24 hours after signing a contract.
The majority of the PR firms are boutique-to-midsize. My experience is that smaller, niche PR firms provide better service and have fewer layers with which a client must deal.
On the client side, I’ve made matches for high tech start-ups to a major Indian firm with 30,000+ employees worldwide, and everything ranging from one-off trade shows to retainer relationships that have carried on for several years.
I’ll explain more if you’d like to have a call about this. And feel free to call at any time: I am available during every time zone!
By the way, do we have anyone on the list from my alma maters McGill University, the University of Southern California and UCLA?
Joan Weinberg, The Weinberg Group/, Free World-wide PR Firm Search Services, Representing 125+ Tech & Life Sci PR Firms , EMEA • US • Asia-Pacific Tel: +972-3-575-5448 Fax: +972-3-575-5449 Mobile: +972-522-202-484 e: email@example.com Skype: JoanW1
I was somewhat surprised (but pleased..) that the channel was also being used, and with such candor, for an outright commercial pitch, although I am sure many will have frown and now fear that if such a habit catches on, the discussion group is bound to be pestered by spam. In any case, what intrigued me was the nature of the service being offered. If I understand correctly, Joan’s shop recruits public relations firms and consultancies at no reciprocal charge and offers their services to clients at no reciprocal charge. All, as she says, is gratis. Like a dating service. Only when the client decides to use a proposed pr firm, then the latter receives ‘eventually’ a commission from the agency.
I know very well that for many years some of us have made a comfortable living in brokering public relations counsel to organizations and continue to do so. As the head hunters do. Only, the economic model is normally different. The organization recruits the broker as it would a consultant and pays whatever fee is agreed for the basic service, plus a success fee when the agency is ‘eventually’ selected and taken on board, often based on the fee volume of the first or two years of actual service rendered.
In this case, instead, the broker is paid by none except by the agency if and when the organization agrees to sign a contract. If this is so, then a number of questions arise. For example: how does the broker compile its ‘list of 125+ pr firms’ as it boasts? Do the firms pay a subscription fee? And if not, one would suppose that the selection process is done on the basis, as the letter proudly boasts, of a thorough analysis of professional quality. But who pays for this work?
Another question relates to the formation of the price which the pr firm ‘eventually’ pays to the broker. Is it a flat fee? Is it a percentage on fee income? Is it a mix? For how long does it last?
I fully acknowledge that our market, in every country, is certainly everything but transparent and our processes are more than ever under social criticism, but I ask myself, and you of course, if we really need more confusion. Or have I misinterpreted?