By Melissa A Vitale
I really wish I had balls the size of some of the people who seek me out for PR services. I've never gone to buy something, was quoted and asked to either get the item for free, or with promises. The new one I've gotten recently was being asked to pay in a different way than I quoted.
My public relations agency, as it every one of the 7+ firms I've worked for over my tenure, bills retainers upfront. To be under publicist representation means your brand can be in rooms with editors at places like New York Times, Forbes and Rolling Stone in a matter of days. If you want to retain the services and representation of a publicist, you need to pay their retainer.
I was recently asked if I could forego my retainer to pay milestones. Supposedly I would still get the same amount of my monthly retainers in these milestones but understanding that those milestones could take months to cultivate, wanted me to work pro-bono until those milestones are hit.
I don't go into a store, buy something and then when I hand over my payment say "Hey, can I test this out first and then I'll pay you later once I like it?" If you want something you have to pay for it.
There are many creative avenues where you don't pay until you get the results. Public relations is not one of those fields. Public relations agencies already have meetings set up with journalists and editors before a client signs on board. We also have tons of tracking programs, email programs and other physical and digital supplies that make our press strategy possible. Many firms also have employees.
Rent, program subscriptions, supplies of mailers, tracking programs and media databases typically charge monthly. Employees have monthly salaries. When a client signs with a PR firm, they get added to these systems on day one.
Paying in milestones leaves the door open for a brand to abandon a campaign with no cost to them.
If you want the representation of a publicist, you need to pay for it upfront. Say I had three potential clients who said "oh we can pay milestones, just rep us we'll pay when we see results" it means I'm footing the bill for these brands' desires for public relations.
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Melissa A Vitale Public Relations
A public relations agency specializing in brands and startups in artificial intelligence, sexual wellness and legal cannabis.