Only a handful of PR agencies will guarantee clients a minimum level of press coverage.
Traditionally, PRs work on hours and once those hours have expired – even if no coverage has been achieved – they down tools.
This might explain why I've spoken to dozens of small business owners who've been disappointed by the results, and shocked their limited hours were being spent on presentations boasting colourful analytics that attempted to make up for the lack of actual press coverage achieved.
This gives the PR industry a bad name.
Put yourself in the shoes of a small business owner, especially pre-investment. That person will be ploughing their own savings into kick starting their venture - and they must expect results of all their suppliers.
While a 'pay on results' set up doesn't always work, usually because clients will find time-strapped agencies prioritise retained clients, PRs can and should be doing two things:
1. Their due diligence. Every client has different needs and different limitations. If a client has no data, no budget for surveys, and no case studies, restricting what can be done, it's up to the PR person to explain what opportunities remain and how long they need to secure them.
2. Offer a guarantee based on results, not hours - a minimum service level, for want of an existing term. Clients want to know what they can expect in return for their money in a worst case scenario. Some clients are harder to get coverage for than others, but no PR worth their salt wants one to walk away unhappy, even if that means over servicing to achieve those results.