THE VALUE OF THINGS
What do you think you’re worth? What do you think the value of your PR is to your clients? Does it weigh up to more than a marketing budget say, or a social media spend? Is your PR more valuable than a TV campaign or the posts of an influenecer? Do your clients see eye to eye with you on what you want to charge them? And even if they do at the start of a project when expectation is high do you know how they feel about what they paid when headlines are in or the crisis solved and the job is over?
Money is never an easy topic. I still sometimes wonder why I should charge highly for ideas that come easily to me but then it’s hard to quantify how much great, needle moving ideas are worth. Today, very few really understand the value of great PR, preferring to bask in the hullaballoo of metrics.
These days to be taken seriously we make presentations that talk about strategy, consultancy and metrics. Yet in my experience, these things diminish the likelihood of the risk-taking that enables good publicity ideas to flourish. Today compliance, justification, risk avoidance, reason and rationality seem to be the way to justify high fees. These behavioural aspects are considered more sound than originality and the ability to evoke genuine emotional responses from the crowd.
So Is the PR world eating itself? Are we in danger of simply talking to an audience of fellow PR’s? Take this nugget from a PR company about a campaign; "BOOM! 151 articles, 95% of which carry our branding". Yet another meaningless metric and more deafening noise. Real influence is the holy grail; moving the needle is all, not the provision of metrics to woo the client into a safe space that protects them from the hullabaloo.
Yet still, are we as important and valuable as we think we are?
One of the reasons for a potential nosedive is that the PR industry is in a cycle of stupidity that it can't seem to extricate itself from.
The longer the silly fantasies of success are unchallenged, the more entrenched they become. The more entrenched they become, the more they seem axiomatic. We have been pistol whipped for years by other marketing disciplines resulting in us over compensating to prove our value. We have become obsessed with proving our importance. Any industry that values systems and processes over real needle moving outcomes is an industry in the early signs of decay.
Data is vital. It helps us make braver decisions and achieve better outcomes but it’s not everything. Success also comes from intuition, empathy, honesty, artistry, imagination and risk – the very things that make publicity campaigns fly into the hearts and minds of people.
I hope we can see that these things are still as valuable than the reassuring process-driven PR management of today. As Bill Bernbach said: “An idea can turn to dust or magic, depending on the talent that rubs against it.”
As creative publicists we have to know our worth.