January 28th, 2014 by Paul Krupin
What's Wrong With Pay for Play? Why is Pay for Play Unethical?
First, what is the distinction between pay for performance and pay for play?
One of the primary concerns about Pay for Performance and Pay for Play and even with Relationship Based PR has to do with the risk of payment to the journalist or media organization without adequate disclosure. Money is a powerful incentive. If you pay a PR person $15,000 to 25,000 for a five minute interview and placement on a prime time national TV show and half of it goes to a producer who agreed to booked the show then that is a serious issue. It presents something as objective reporting instead of identifying it clearly as advertising. Does everyone disclose their back door payments? Not really.
At least in my experience, most publicists who offer pay for performance are also highly ethical about what they do. The reason is that while success speaks loud, failure speaks much louder indeed, and unethical and illegal behavior fairly screams across the planet. And as in politics, there are, of course, consequences for getting caught.
The higher costs associated with pay for performance are a testament to how difficult it is to be successful. The publicist must take the risk for their time and effort instead of being paid for their time and effort. So yes, publicists do tend to take care when accepting PFP clients. Clearly, it is exceedingly difficult to be successful with poor quality books and inexperienced authors or those who aren’t qualified in the eyes of the media.
The key thing here is to follow the money. If the money gets to the journalist, then the disclosure is required by the FTC. With Pay for Performance, you pay the publicist for success, but the risk is that the media is getting paid, too.
What’s the Problem with Pay for Play?
With pay for play, you pay the media for their time or to cover production or whatever. With relationship based PR, you pay the publicist for the inside connection or referral, or you pay to be at an event where journalists and producers are there, and there is a risk they are receiving payment above ethical guidelines of requirements. With retainer based and task based, you pay the publicist to pitch and there is no payment to the media. It’s the content that is the determining factor.
There is a growing number of media who will charge you a fee and then give you coverage. It’s an ongoing issue in society.
Pay for play poses a growing ethical issue in social media, blogs, paid reviews, media placements in print, and on radio and TV. FTC 16 CFR Part 255 states anyone receiving a product (book, TV, widget) for review is considered to be paid with the product and must be disclosed.
The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)’s code now states that ethical practitioners must “encourage disclosure of any exchange of value that influences how those they represent are covered.” The value exchanged may take the form of cash, travel, gifts or future favors.
You can pitch blogs and receive responses from mommy and techie bloggers (from $5 and $10 to $300) to radio shows and even major network and syndicated TV shows saying they’ll be happy to write about you or do a show, if you only pay for the costs of production ($3,000 to $5,000).
Steve Bennett wrote a column in PR Week and said:
“At The New York Times you can’t even accept a free lunch from a contact. And the AP sets a limit of $10 on the size of any benefit received by a journalist.”
The relationship based poses similar ethically questionable situations. It sounds great to hear a PR firm or publicist say that they are on personal terms with a journalist or a host or producer at a big TV show. What’s the problem?
We rely on media to be impartial and to give everyone fair and honest consideration.
Many see this particular style of doing business as a slippery slope that is very susceptible to corruption that undermines the very core of objective reporting and fairness in journalism. There are public relations firms and service providers who offer to place you in front of a group of journalists for a fee. Is it any different than the payments of lobbyists and political action committees in exchange for a meeting with a lawmaker or a politician?
The gold ol’ “hey I’ll buy you lunch meetings”, with drinks, and even, the payment of transportation and even stays at hotels, and more in exchange for coverage. These can turn into lucrative clandestine long-term arrangements where favorable repeat coverage goes to people, companies, organizations, who can afford to pay for the privilege to speak with journalists. What if the PR firm slips a commission fee to the journalist or a “production cost reimbursement” to the media organization?
Do the journalists and their media organizations disclose all financial and other “gifts” faithfully? Do our politicians disclose all their donations, donors, and payments? OK I’m in dreamland.
The next time you see a TV news magazine show look closely for “FTC Disclosure” with the list of sponsors in the credits at the beginning (“The following is paid by our sponsors”.) and the end of the show (the quickly scrolling list of sponsors). Do you even see it?
September 30th, 2013 by Paul Krupin
Discusses the latest Google algorithm changes and how the impacts on news release distribution
Google Changes to the World of News Release Distribution
For many years now marketing practitioners have been advocating people use news releases to improve their placement on search engines. The theory was that you could write and post a news release at a web distribution service and the optimized use of keywords and the links included in the release would result in oodles of incoming links all of which would help capture people’s attention and increase your page ranking on search engines as a result.
Google has decided to clean up the search results and do what it can to rid organic results of press release content that is really not bona fide news, but are instead, paid advertising in disguise. The requirements also have significance to sites that rely heavily on user-generated content.
The latest Google algorithm changes, known as Penguin 2.0, modifies how Google analyzes the role and utility of news releases posted at news release distribution services in a very significant way. The changes, adopted in late July 2013, include the following:
1. Press releases will be treated as paid placement by Google.
2. Optimized anchor text links in a press release distribution post will be considered as “unnatural” and will not be used in Google PageRank search result calculations.
3. Google now requires news release distribution services to add a “no follow” code attribute to all their outbound links in the news releases they post.
What this means is that if you now do a search for keywords on Google or Google News, your will now notice the near total absence of news releases, which used to account for fifty percent of more of what was the search engines produced in the top ten pages. No more. What is now delivered are articles from real media – newspapers, magazines, radio, tv, selected news services & syndicates, and the online versions, news web sites, and certain blogs.
The Google “no follow” and “anchored text” policies apply to”webmasters and directly impact services such as PR Web, Businesswire, PR Newswire, Send2Press, WebWire, MarketWire, OnlinePR Media, eReleases, and many more of the sites who used to be able to get top placement with their posted and archived news releases.
No more. Google has declared those days are over. The new moves by Google places the highest value on unique, quality content at real media sites.
The new search engine results highlight real media and focus on “earned media” and not subsidized links designed to simply weight and manipulate search engine results.
Google is also on the lookout to reduce the impact of large scale guest post activities and advertorials.
For several years now, SEO placement was driven by the use of “unnatural” backlinks and the heavy handed use of keywords in news releases. A variety of “black hat” SEO practices have been developed and used to push page placement. This will no longer be a viable strategy for businesses to utilize if they seek to improve their SEO ranking and the traffic they receive.
Natural links, directly to quality core content, expert or a company web site, are still acceptable.
What this means to publicity seekers is that a news release should not be written with the purpose of producing a sale directly. The news release should also not be written as an advertorial, or an infomercial.
The best view is that a news release is a pitch to a publisher (=media) to get them do publish or produce a story in the medium they utilize.
A news release, or a press release, is therefore a media proposal — a purpose driven communication that is delivered to media, or placed where they can find it, and which invites the media to do a feature story, an interview or a review (in the case of a book or product), and which contains an offer or the actual content and access to the people, needed to do that job.
So if you want real media coverage, write a news release that is truly designed to get you quality media coverage and send it to the right media. Instead of a post and pray web service. Then target your media carefully and send it to the right media directly. Reach out and contact real media people and offer them everything they need to do their job your way.
Help the people that you can help the most. The latest change means that quality content matters now more than ever before.
Good problem solving advice, news, value-added commentary, noteworthy public events, innovative products, quality books, and the best entertainment will get higher search engine placement, and hence command more value in the eyes of the searching public. Earned media coverage acquired by using targeted PR tactics and strategies will be one of the primary vehicles for gaining that status.
For additional reading:
Yahoo Small Business Advisor article Sept 1, 2013
Forbes magazine article by Cheryl Conner, August 28, 2013
Search Engine Watch articles by Lisa Buyer August 9, 2013
Search Engine Land article by Barry Schwarz July 30, 2013
Search Engine Roundtable article by Barry Schwarz July 30, 2013
Search Engine Watch article by Lisa Buyer July 26, 2013
Search Engine Land article by Barry Schwarz July 26, 2013
Search Engine Land article by Barry Schwarz July 9, 2013
Search Engine Watch – #nofollow
July 27th, 2013 by Paul Krupin
Social media monitoring tool
Here’s a very useful social media monitoring tool that operates like Google News Alerts. It’s free. Just set up an account and create key word alerts.
They also offer some very robust social media monitoring capability for people who need trend analysis.
The alerts are very handy if you are seeking to follow the results of a media campaign to identify news coverage you have acquired.
TalkWalker Alerts http://www.talkwalker.com/alerts
October 1st, 2012 by Paul Krupin
Using Publicity to Overwhelm the Impacts of Illegal Downloads of Electronic Versions of Books and other Products
I can’t advise you on how to prevent it or stop it, although there may be techie ways to reduce the risks. I believe that there are evil people out there and you cannot avoid all of them if they want to steal from you.
I honestly think spending time chasing down the evil people is a time-wasting negative spiral that will fail to produce meaningful success or personal satisfaction given the choices you have to create the positive platform you want to achieve success.
What you can do is market and promote and publicize so effectively and thoroughly that the number of people who steal from you is de minimis compared to the income that you derive from your publishing and other related sources of income, and because of the sheer power, presence and reach of the personal and professional brand you have created for yourself.
Focus on helping the people you can help the most. Get out there in front of the people you want to reach so many times and give them such quality content, advice, information and entertainment that the links to your articles and posts you get on your own and other people’s sites simply overwhelm the organic search results that contain the links to the illegal download sites.
Be so active in media and the online communities you can participate in that when a question pertaining to the subject of your area of expertise comes up, you are top of mind because the wonderful things people are saying about you block the discovery of the sites that cause you harm.
You have the choice. You can be passive and stay in the ‘if you build it they will come’ mode (very similar to the ‘pray and do little if anything’ mode), or you can decide to get systematically active with your marketing communications and realize that every day gives you the opportunity to reach out and answer someone’s question and share the answer so that tens if not hundreds of people see that answer and are presented with a new reason to call on you.
Even one article or post a month, shared on twenty blogs and media sites per month is 240 new incoming links in a year and then you also get the Tweets, FB shout outs, and other social media links that go with those.
So you want to know what to do? Ignore them. Build your platform! Choose to do the things that you need to do to be successful for yourself. Focus on your outreach. What you focus on will get bigger.
If you want to be flying with the eagles, stay away from the turkeys.
June 22nd, 2012 by Paul Krupin
Kickstarter Success Story
One of my newest clients is Ms. Erin Faulk, who just conducted a successful Kickstarter campaign.
She raised more than $24,000 to fund an independent film adventure where she goes cross country, meets, interviews, and films 140 “characters” she only knew previously through Twitter.
The PR campaign resulted in numerous articles and radio and TV interviews which contributed to her going over her $15,000 goal.
She did an interview with the Cision Navigator in which she offers tips on building online relationships.
Two days ago, icing on the cake. Audi USA donated her the use of a brand new Audi for the 8,000 mile cross country tour.
June 16th, 2012 by Paul Krupin
Targeting the Right Media - Best questions and the most efficient process
How do you find the right media?
First identify your target audience. Who are they? What do they do? How do they buy products like yours? When and how? Where do they get their recommendations? Research and identify what they read, watch and listen to particularly when they are most receptive to a product or service suggestion. You can focus on reaching individuals or utilizing media because of the credibility and audiences they can reach for you. Here’s a checklist of prime media:
Daily and weekly newspapers
Magazine & Trade Publications
News services & syndicates
Radio and TV stations, shows & networks
Then you have the online media:
News Web Sites
Audio Podcasts/Photo/Video Sharing Sites
Social Networking Sites
While you want to assemble a list of newspapers, magazines, radio stations, TV programs, news services, syndicates, and Internet media that will help you reach your target audience, bear in mind that these aren’t the only places that people congregate. Here’s a list of non-media venues you ought to consider:
Since I’m a publicist, I use a licensed media database to do this and I create custom lists for client outreach efforts.
But you can scratch the surface yourself using the Internet and make use News Search Engines and searchable free online media directories to search by key word to identify articles and media that you want to contact and pitch your own articles to. You can use the specialized search tools at Facebook, Twitter, and other MEDIA” just as easily and you can develop pitches that are properly formatted and designed to be appropriate for those technologies. The challenge will be reaching enough of them and being persuasive with them so you get your message published in enough places.
January 19th, 2012 by Paul Krupin
Promoting and Marketing on Facebook
> Trying to promote books on Facebook is as pointless as trying to buy
> groceries in a church. It’s just not there. Been there, done that. Don’t
> waste your time. You can’t put “likes” in the bank.
OMG, failure certainly speaks louder than success.
Promoting as in marketing books with the immediate goal of selling books on Facebook is not how it works. This is not a direct marketing method of communication.
That’s simply not the right way to approach the use of these instant publishing technologies.
Think about what results in people taking action and sharing on Facebook.
They read and/or see something short, sweet, and incredibly thought provoking. They may comment on it if it’s worthy of comment. And they may share it if it’s value packed and worthy of sharing with others.
It’s a filtration process. The cream rises to the top.
Notice that only the really good noteworthy and excellent ideas and knowledge are passed on from person to person.
If you are going to intentionally and strategically use these technologies, you simply have to focus on creating messages that are worth sharing.
The Bottom Line: Quality and excellence is what triggers action.
I harp on this all the time. If you learn how to turn people on first, THEN you get to leverage the technologies to repeat the message and trigger the actions you want to happen.
Leave a trail of tasty intellectual candy and people will keep on taking bites and eventually want to buy the whole bag.
You can leverage, maximize and benefit from posting good, positive, enthusiastic, entertaining, and educational information.
You can see your ideas shared if what you post is truly noteworthy ideas, writing, photos, and helpful support every chance you get with every post you make.
You cannot just believe you are good. You must BE REALLY GOOD. In fact, other people must find what you shared to be so good, they are driven to share that incredible goodness with others.
This is real time public relations. You want to learn how to do this with Facebook, and every other media (= prime media, Internet media and yes, now even social media) you try to get published in.
If you write something that is really, really good, people will share it. But you have to learn how to create and make use of micro marcom.
I’ve been studying and developing successful strategies that people utilize for micro-marcom (micro marketing communications) for a while now. The media are masters at this.
The best way to use FB and other technologies is to make use of little tiny galvanizing nuggets of clarity.
You see the tweets in their headlines on Google News, in newspaper headlines, and in chyrons on TV. They hint of stories that will be dramatic, personal, achievement in the face of adversity plus humor. You can see these headlines are designed to be Attention Grabbing Short Phrases, with a link to get you to sit through “the rest of the story”. Study these tweets and you’ll see they basically fall into one of the following seven categories:
Someone in Trouble
Someone Saved or Rescued
Something Bad Happened
Something Good Happened
If you are going to use Facebook and all these media to promote, you will be most successful if you stay as personal as you are talking to your best friends and giving them your very, very best.
And you have to be quick about it. You can provide a link so they can get more goodness, and by golly it had better be as good as you said it is!
This way the image and impression you create is always helpful, educational, fun, entertaining, and worthwhile.
You can choose to create a personal brand that people always want to enjoy, and that results in people sharing what you offer, because it is simply so good.
When they like what you do, they will act to get more of you.
April 2nd, 2011 by Paul Krupin
Analysis of the utilization of social media on the creation of a NY Times best seller
I read Guy Kawasaki’s very interesting article titled on Mashable “Launch Any Product Using Social Media”
Guy’s post describes the social media actions he took to launch a new book titled Enchantment
Here’s the post I placed on Mashable comment in response (Guy’s personal comment is also included at the end):
It would be wonderful to learn how many books sold each channel produced. That might be hard to document. It would be nice knowing how many books sold from the effort in total.
I don’t attribute your success to the social media. I attribute your success to the fact that YOU are known to produce candy. You have for many years now produced books and all sorts of information that is remarkable. It is intellectual candy, so that when people get a small taste of a new recipe, they instantly want the whole bag.
You are one of those individuals who will be able to sell anything you offer. You are one of those individuals whose every published word has been worth reading.
The fact that you used these social media technologies is interesting, but if it were anyone else, it wouldn’t necessarily work. You can make great use of these technologies because you’ve got credibility and the people you want to reach are interested in what you have to say.
To really work well, the technologies (any publishing technologies, not just the social media) need a message that produces the feeling of want and desire instantly. It has to offer tremendous news, education, or educational value. It has to come from a trusted source. It has to taste like candy.
Without that candy, nothing will happen no matter what technology is used. With that candy, every technology you use can be a force multiplier.
The key with everything that you do is that YOU are known to produce candy. And the real lesson to be learned is that if anyone wants to achieve success like you, then they have to produce their own candy first. And it’s not just the product, but it’s also the little and large snippets of communication in all the marcom you offer, that also needs to taste like candy. The messages have to be really good, the content has to be quality and offer tremendous value.
And in your case, the person who is offering it is someone who can be trusted and known to produce worthwhile advice, entertaining insights, and helpful information.
That’s the lesson learned. You do your best and make candy. You help the people you can help the most and you do it with style, energy, and pizzazz. You make it your life’s work.
If all these things happen, then no matter how people learn about it, they will likely conclude it truly worthwhile. They will then feel very much inclined to buy not only the bag of candy you are suggesting we buy, but everything you have for sale.
In a nation with 330 million people trained and indoctrinated in reading and using media and technologies, truly remarkable sales and success are indeed possible. And with 1.3 billion people in China, the world is indeed a remarkable place filled with global opportunities.
You’ve earned it. That’s really what other people have to do, too. Make candy.
You made my evening. Thanks so much. I feel like Willy Wonka. 🙂
I don’t know how many each channel sold. It’s very hard to figure this out because so many things pointed to my Amazon affiliate account.
I hope I can continue to make candy that pleases you!
October 23rd, 2010 by Paul Krupin
Malcolm Gladwell on Social Media
Malcolm Gladwell triggered an avalanche of protests and howls from social media lovers for his analysis and commentary of social media in his article in the New Yorker magazine.
Here the links to the original October 4, 2010 article in The New Yorker
This one goes to Mike Isaac’s tech column in Forbes
Here is Twitter founder Biz Stone’s response in The Atlantic magazine.
And for my own history of rants and raves on the subject of social media and the difficulties of communicating meaningfully with people:
Hey, if it works for you, do it. If it doesn’t, do something else, and figure out what works.
August 20th, 2009 by Paul Krupin
Response to the Social Media Bandwagon Phenomenon
One person on the publishing and promoting list at Yahoo posted the following message:
> “For any of those that are still questioning the importance and/or value of Social Media, check out the stats in this video…”
Another person responded:
> “Those who pooh-pooh it are going to be the ones running to catch up.”
Social media rah rah sis boom bah.
Yes you may think it’s cool you can text with your iPod and splatter words all across other people’s machines everywhere.
But if you are in business, social media is more than just tweeting and facebooking. Social media Is not a quick fix for sales or marketing success. It’s not something that you can start tomorrow and go to the bank with a smile on your face in two weeks.
Social media is a specialized set of communications technologies and tools and tactics that can be used to improve how you communicate with people who use these technologies.
They can only help you generate profits if you use them to communicate meaningfully with your particular pool of interested clients, prospects and customers if this is how they communicate and make decisions.
Even getting followers is no guarantee that you will be able to turn them into raving fans and paying customers. You need to learn what to say and how to say it to get people interested and then you need to keep them interested.
The numbers of people using these technologies follows the adoption curves of all sorts of technologies that have spread into use before. This should not be a surprise at all. The past 50 years have seen all sorts of devices come and go. Phones, TV’s, faxes, computers, email, PDA’s, now iPods.
Now the online technologies have diversified. First there was the Internet, then there were news search engines, mailing lists, discussion groups, forums, blogs, audio, then satellite radio, video, and now social media technologies.
The ways to communicate with people continues to evolve and get smaller, faster, and easier to use.
But each technology has special communications requirements. Each requires training, practice and skill if you are going to use the technologies to persuade people to take action.
So the real question is can you use these technologies and use them well?
Regardless of the technology you use, you need to focus on your message. This is because your message is how you connect with the mind of the person who receives the message.
So what are you saying?
Do you have a purpose and a goal of triggering action?
Does your message trigger interest?
Are you giving value? Are you truly making a favorable impression? Are you making people laugh, cry, jump for joy or cringe? Do you achieve emotional and intellectual engagement?
Do your individual messages or even the suite of message you send over time result trigger people to action? Do you see sufficient numbers of people investigate you, your products and services? Do enough people make a decision to buy what you sell so that you can operate your company?
Where do people go after you persuade them to take a step your direction? Do your landing pages result in favorable response? Do you see sufficient conversion to sales?
Then when you finally get a customer, do you really deliver something of value? Is your product and service and performance of sufficient quality to achieve sales and positive reviews? Will the personal satisfaction people experience result in them spreading the word for you?
You have to have something worthwhile to offer in the first place.
Social media is a suite of tools that you can use *if* you take the time and put in the energy to develop the relationships with the people on the other end of the messages. You need to think out how all the tools you use interact to develop interest, satisfy needs, build credibility and trust.
And sell product.
Would you believe, that to date, the statistics and studies continue to show that base level income and profits in most companies continues to be derived from the old fashioned conventional methods of communicating and marketing?
The social media is an expense that comes as an addition to all the alternative technologies that are available for people to use. It takes money, time, skill, and expertise to operate these like any other of the technologies businesses use. Which technologies and which communications tactics and systems produce the income and profits that allow a company to survive and thrive have to be developed, determined and managed.
But no matter what technologies you use to communicate with your target audience, the message is perhaps the most crucial decision you can make.
The good old person to person “How can I help you?” is about the best place to start.
I wrote a few more posts about the ROI of Twitter a few months ago. If you’re interested, you can find them at my blog – here’s the link on the tag social marketing: