Direct Contact PR, Internet media faxgrowth


What’s Wrong With Pay for Play? Why is Pay for Play Unethical?

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?

Kickstarter Success Story

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.

Promoting and Marketing on Facebook, Twitter and social media

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:

Problem Identified
Problem Warning
Problem Solved
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.

Article comment – Social media marketing sucks… if you do it wrong

Why social media marketing sucks and what to do about it

Why does social media marketing suck and what can you do about it?

Interesting Article at the Kansas City Examiner titled Social Media Marketing Sucks… If You Do It Wrong by Dustin Riedisel

My comments:

Social media are a special type of communication technology and they too, like all other communication technologies (email fax, street mail and even Tweets), have special requirements.

The goal is to have a meaningful communication with a real person on the receiving end. The message is what matters. The real value to the recipient is what matters. You can’t use any communication technology to trigger or motivate action without figuring out the magic words first.

This in fact, is what I call, the miracle of the microcosm, since in this nation of 300 million technology and media indoctrinated people, you can learn what it takes to turn people on anywhere. This is what expert PR and marketing copywriters are really for.

And once you do figure out what you can say that turns people on (no matter where you are) then and only then can you use technology as a force multiplier, to generate the actions you want people to take, wherever they are.

Read more on social media marketing ROI here

More Discussion and Analysis of That Pesky Twitter ROI Question

More Discussion and Analysis of That Pesky Twitter ROI Question

My post yesterday triggered a lot of discussion including worried cries from lots of Twitter afficianodos. Sorry, I didn’t want to dampen your enthusiasm or blind devotion.

It’s that pesky ROI question that I’m wanting to focus on specifically and strategically.

If you are getting ROI and it’s worth your while, then keep doing it. I want to see facts and data and learn how people do it profitably.

I would like to see what you say, understand who you say it to, and what happens specifically and over what period of time. I’d like to learn the connections to your landing pages and your fees to see how the ROI is generated.

My experience and that of many many many repeat many many many of my clients, invest time and energy and even create huge numbers of followers and even they see very little for it in terms of real ROI. Oh a few do, but very few indeed.

I think there are many reasons for this.

First is that the ability to communicate meaningfully so that you persuade and achieve action is very limited by Twitters brevity and that no matter what you give, getting through to people so that you achieve action is really hard.

Second, I think that at least in lots of businesses, successful people do not make decisions that entail or rely on or are even remotely influenced by what they can learn from Twitter conversations.

Sure, there are success stories and they are galvanizing. But they are actually rare. The data on ROI for bread and butter people and businesses is lacking.

Personally, I don’t mind Twitter at all. To me it is another tool in the arsenal. Like all the others, the technology has special communications requirements.

Some people don’t want to look at it as a marketing tool. They say to me “I don’t get it”. It’s just for communicating with people.

I think they are missing my point. Clients want to use it as a marketing tool. It’s a given fact. So it is the use of the tool for marketing that I want to focus on.

There are many people who think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. Obviously, there are people who are growing up using these technologies, and even building their lifestyles, and their livelihoods and incomes and the way they communicate with their clients around the technologies they use. To them, Twitter is just a wonderful extension of what they do and feel.

Like it or not, there are plenty of people who do use it and with text messaging and the ease of use on cell phones and blackberries, it is important to keep your options open. My kids use it. My doctor doesn’t. I do sometimes. Some people live and breathe on their iPods. They may have nothing better to do with their time.

I like being able to search and ascertain who’s talking about what. Although it has limits and doesn’t compare to the Internet for quality content and reliable detailed information searches for real problem solving data or information.

It’s a great tool for finding out “what’s happening” and searching for news and following real time events. Put in the word ‘tornado’ and you’ll find out exactly what’s touching down where and within seconds of it happening.

It has a valuable function for businesses who monitor what people say or who need to respond to a crisis.

All these things are true and all it takes is money and take time and effort and skill.

So I’m not giving up on it at all. I’m not averse to using it.

My questions are how much money, how much time, and what skills?

I am a scientist and a former attorney and a consultant who seeks to provide service and value. I think in terms of systematic processes to achieve success. The processes have to be capable of being reproduced for me to recommend them to clients and to teach with them.

So my search is for valid guidelines and tactics. Hence, what I hope for is not hope and hype, but statistically proven tactics with some documentation of the ROI.

I’m looking for guidelines in how to use it wisely and what messages work best for what purposes.

That’s my point. To measure the ROI with Twitter is very difficult. It varies phenomenally.

The number of followers to me is a dubious metric. You can develop a following and be in communications with thousands of people. You can tweet to them three times a day or three times a week.

But does it produce sales? Does the time and effort and money you invest yield a net income and is it worthwhile?

That is the question I want to focus on.

The time it takes to do this well competes with other income producing activities you can be doing. How you spend your time is a choice you make.

I am very cognizant of the power of targeted communications. The right message in front of the right people can be truly amazing. I do this with media day in day out.

But what if the people you reach using Twitter don’t react in a way that lets you profit from the time effort you invest in it.

You have to determine that yourself.

I want people to succeed when they use Twitter or any other medium of communication.

I see that people have to be careful though that they don’t replace productive income producing activities, with less income producing activities. That’s one of the risks here.

My recommendation is to track exactly what you do and make an objective determination and compare it to other dedicated marketing activities that produce sales.

Decide based on the income data.

If it works do more of it. That’s common sense.

But if you find it’s eating up your time and the hits don’t ripen into sales and ROI, then perhaps you should do something else.

If you spend just half an hour a day on Twitter, you’ve made a decision that results in you giving 15 hours a month to it. Are you making ten dollars an hour for your time? Did you by any chance just lose 15 hours at $100 an hour doing that?

That’s the type of choice I face.

Like it or not, much to the dismay of those who have jumped on the Twitter bandwagon, lots of people are finding out that Twitter can be a demanding time eater, and it may produce very little in the way of tangible and reliable income.

In fact, it can take them away from other proven activities that are needed to produce income that they rely on.

Everyone has to make the choice for themselves and decide how to spend time that produces income.

I think that given how difficult it is to survive and make an income these days, it is really important for people to document what they really experience carefully, so that they can make good sound decisions.

That’s what I’m really interested in. Hard data. Not theory. Fact.

How much time do you need to invest to develop a following?

How do you really reach the people who really matter to your business?

How do you communicate with them?

These are simple but important questions.

The number of dollars per unit time expended is something more interesting to me since I can compare it directly to how I spend time and the income I presently receive.

The way I spend that time is very important since I can compare it to how I know I spend my time now and the income I presently receive for that conduct.

What messages are best for what purpose is also a subject I’m very interested in because I can compare it to how I communicate now and what income those communications produce for me.

That’s what I’m after.

I think it would help others to find out these things as well.

Biggest challenge I see about using Twitter

Commentary and analysis of using Twitter for marketing and PR

People are asking lots of questions about using Twitter, particularly as a marketing tool and as a tool for PR.

The biggest challenge I see about using Twitter as a marketing tool is trying to get an answer to the following question:

What ROI am I going to get out using Twitter and why?

The ROI people receive from participating in Twitter is an open question. Some people get lots of tangible ROI and many don’t.

If you are an Oprah or an Ashton Kutcher, you may have a million followers. You can cultivate and perpetuate brand image by being a fun enjoyable person with your tweets.

Each one only follows a handful of people. That’s not conversation, it’s performing.

How much time do you think they really spend Tweeting and looking at other people’s Tweets?

Twitter is seen as a conversational medium and it takes time, effort and care to develop and cultivate relationships.

If the celebrities are using Twitter, is it because it will have a positive effect on their ROI? Look at how that happens.

Can you develop meaningful relationships with people on Twitter? Apparently so. Some people do anyway.

Can these relationships produce ROI?

Maybe. Some people may be able to mine the relationships and produce ROI but for most people that I know, this is not the case.

Is it because no one is really listening? Text message communications not all that easy to make motivational or galvanizing. Headlines in articles, news releases and the subject lines of email messages present many of the same daunting challenges. Look at the latest string of Tweets from anyone and see if what they say impresses you enough to spend lots of time each day keeping up with what they are saying.

120 to 140 characters with a snip link and say something of helpful, funny or useful with real value you may get someone to click on the link.

The same one liner may be forwarded.

You won’t sell product or services simply by tweeting three times a day if what you tweet is sales talk and links to your web site.

You may get friends and get followers if you post helpful or valuable information.

Tracking sales from individual tweets is going to be pretty difficult. Tracking traffic from Tweets may be easier.

Will it be worth the time and effort compared to other things that you can do with your time, energy, and money available for marketing?

Maybe. Maybe not. It depends what you do and what you receive from your Twitter efforts as compared to other things you are doing.

You can target using Twitter search and find people who have mentioned a keyword in their Tweets. Is this really a great targeting tool? Are you reaching people who are truly receptive to a direct message from you.

If what you posted had real value and if it helps people, then they may be grateful. They may spread the word to other. They may help you build a reputation for that value. Yes, it may bring new people to your site and you’ll get some ROI.

But is ROI you receive from this attenuated pathway really based on your Twitter post? Or is it because of the value in what you’ve created independent of your Twitter post.

Did you need Twitter to connect with someone to help them? Can you use all sorts of other methods of communication to meaningfully connect with people?

Is Twitter as valuable say as a regular phone call? A web seminar? A detailed post to a forum? An article in a trade publication? An interview on radio or TV? A podcast interview or an interview on Sirius satellite radio?

The answers may depend on who you are, what you do, and what you can give to others, and then of course, in what you have that brings you income that Twitter people will buy.

I believe that if you focus on the creation of real value then you won’t necessarily need to use Twitter at all.

In fact, unless you create something of real value in the first place, it won’t matter no matter what technology you use to communicate with people.

The quality product or service is the most important thing you need to focus on first and foremost.

Of course, if you do create something truly re-markable, other people will do all the talking for you anyway.

There are good reasons why companies need to be on Twitter and follow what people are saying, and even converse once an issue or even a crisis erupts.

But is it worth the time, effort and money it takes to be on Twitter for small businesses?

Maybe. It depends on you, your product, your services, and on the value of the relationships and the quality of the communications you have with the people you need to produce your income.

If you can have meaningful little tiny snippet text communications that relate directly to the mental factors that determine or influence sales decisions in your target audience then maybe Twitter is for you.

If on the other hand little tiny snippet text message communications don’t cut it, then maybe you don’t need to be using Twitter at all.

President Obama knows one of the real secrets of publicity and marketing success

President Obama knows the real secret of publicity and marketing success

Connecting in a caring way.

You can write an email. You can write an article. You can write a news release. You can create a script for an interview.

You can now send it out and try to get people to pay attention to you.

You can post it on web sites and make it available to millions of people who are searching using key words. That’s the idea. They search and they find you.

Will anyone pay any attention to you?

Not unless you care and they realize it.

There 20,000 people posting on blogs every hour. There are millions of people and businesses updating their web sites every day.

There are millions of people twittering away merrily with their little snippets of ‘wassup’ messages.

Are they connecting with you in a caring way?

Which ones actually get through to you? Which ones do you pay attention to?

Our newly elected President Barrack Obama knows how to connect.

I just signed up to be a follower on his Twitter account.

Within minutes I received the following email message:

“Hi, pjkrupin (pjkrupin).

Barack Obama (BarackObama) is now following your updates on Twitter.

Check out Barack Obama’s profile here:



Can you believe it? The President of the United States is following my updates on Twitter.

In fact as of today, he’s following more people than are following him.

He’s following 166,088 people, and he has 144,000 followers.

He (or someone on his staff) is listening to more people than there are people listening to him, at least on Twitter.

This is amazing to me. This gives me a unique online experience.

He’s connected with me and he says he cares.

Try it yourself. Sing up at

See how you feel when you get that message that says, “Barack Obama (BarackObama) is now following your updates on Twitter.”

What an example to emulate.

My Favorite Tweets

Trying to figure out how to use Twitter for marketing

I’m studying more and more about social marketing. I still can’t figure out how to use Twitter for marketing. Oh well.

If you figure out how to use Twitter for marketing, please help me learn what I need to know. Tips welcome.

Twitter isn’t a total loss. I was able to start a list of my favorite tweets that I’ve found while searching.

Here’s my list from today. My favorite tweets so far:

Nation, it’s time to grab the bull by the horns. If there are no horns –you’re grabbing a cow, STOP IT!

There’s nothing wrong with stretching the Truth. We stretch taffy, and that just makes it more delicious.

Remember kids! In order to maintain an untenable position, you have to be actively ignorant.

I’ve got truth fever… seriously, I’ve been throwing up all day.

Been staring at this book and wondering why reading is so boring. As it turns out: I CAN’T READ!

Sometimes it takes a crazy person to see the truth. If so, I’m a freaking lunatic!

Some people say the glass is half full of truth, some half empty. I say: GIVE ME SOME!

– Stephen Colbert

I would love to tweet her…

I like to move it move it, I like to move it move it.. MOVE IT! Rearranging furniture makes me want sexy time.

– Borat

Note to self: If cronies aren’t sufficiently intimidated after barking out orders, check to make sure your voice box isn’t set on ‘mute’.

Flight attendant told me to turn off my “electronic devices”. One mind trick later, I’m still breathing. The same can’t be said for her.

I love New Years. Gonna pick a planet, get drunk and count down to “dropping the ball” if you know what I mean…

– Darth Vader

If you find more that make you smile or make you feel good please send them my way. I’d love to see them.