404825_10150478130589352_10877753_n Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve interviewed potential clients for Osei PR. During a preliminary conversation, one designer mentioned a pay-per-placement arrangement. I was a bit put off, as I wasn’t very familiar with PPP arrangements, so my first thought was there’s no way I’m working for free! Salary, retainer and per project payments only, please.

I did some research, and found several in-depth articles on the subject. The pay-per-placement dispute is archaic, and there’ll be no resolve. Agencies scoff, because they believe that clients are at a disadvantage by opting for pay-per-placement agreements because they won’t reap the benefits of a full public relations campaign. This is true, because with the pay-per-placement model, the client is only after press mentions –  not brand building or establishing relationships. The client and publicist identify potential/relevant outlets for features, and the PRo attempts to make it happen. Nothing more, nothing less. The publicist is also at a disadvantage, because despite writing the most captivating pitches, sometimes, no one takes the bait. Score for the client, though. Afterall, they got free labor, and it’s not their fault that you SUCK as a publicist, and couldn’t secure a placement (I kid, I kid).

On the flip side, many brands can’t afford retainers, or are tapped out from forking over anywhere from $2,500 (small firms), to $20,000 (People’s Revolution/KCD status), only to receive a few mentions in blogs with little traffic, a print mention in a trade magazine, or even worse – nothing. That’s not always the case, but it’s a common complaint, so I understand only wanting to pay for results.

I looked up pay-per-placement rates, and it was then that I began to re-evaluate my stance. There are  many agencies that work solely on a pay-per-placement basis, and let me tell you, what they receive for one major placement, is the equivalent of a monthly retainer. If a PRo goes on a placement spree, the client may end up coughing up far more than that cringe worthy retainer. Below are the rates from Pay-Per-Clip (catchy name, right?), a performance public relations agency.






These rates are specific to Pay-Per-Clip, but the breakdown is similar among other performance-based agencies. I’ll admit, I never knew it was that deep! Obviously, those aren’t the rates I’d charge, however, it gave me something to base my rates on, if a client shows interest in that approach. Pay-per-placement is an option for newer publicists, or those looking to gain new clientele. Think about it; there far worse payment alternatives (commission based, etc.). I’d prefer retainer so I can put together a full campaign, and nurture and grow with a brand, but I’m open to pay-per-placement depending on the client/product. Keep the following in mind when considering a pay-per-placement arrangement:

  • Starting fee – suggest a small fee to begin working, that way, in the event you’re unable to place, you’ve received some type of compensation. It need not be a large sum.
  • Discuss press goals with the client. Is the client more interested in digital mentions, print, etc? This info will allow you to prioritize accordingly. Remember, time is money.
  • Outline specifics in a contract. This includes pricing per placement, per type, payment due dates, length of agreement, exact services to be rendered by publicist, etc. By doing so, you’ll avoid discrepancies later. This may seem like common knowledge, but there are still people who engage in business with no contracts.
  • Don’t be swindled. Use the above rates as a guideline, research and settle on rates you are comfortable with. Let it be known that $100 per clip won’t suffice.

With pay-per-placement, you’re really putting your money where your pitch is. Publicists are the best salesmen, and if your contacts, relationships and ability to write and spin are solid, there’s serious money-making potential. So what say you (freelance/small business) Comm Moms and PRos – would you sign a client on a pay-per-placement basis? Any tips you’d like to add to my list? Do tell!

Image Credit: LOLHappens