Here's why pay for placement is appealing to some biz owners: They've been burned by so-called PR practitioners who just plain aren't good at what they do. The small biz owner in the article refers to one publicist she hired who "talked about her" at local parties. Puh-leeze. That's not publicity. That's gossip. Pay me a few thousand dollars and I'll talk about your company at the next Fairport Girls Basketball Booster Club meeting. Let's see how much good that does for you.
Please don't go the pay for placement route. You can't afford it. A good publicist -- someone with training and a track record -- will use all the same tools that a PfP practitioner will use for the same results, but will charge you a more appropriate fee for the results. I've got an entire chapter on how to select a public relations firm in my how-to publicity book for small business owners, Streetwise Complete Publicity Plans: How to Create Publicity That Will Spark Media Exposure and Excitement. Let it guide you. Here's the cheat sheet:
- Ask other business owners who have enjoyed publicity success who they hired. Talk to them about what they do and don't like about their PR firm. Use that input to help you decide if the firm is a good fit for you and how you like to do business.
- Interview several firms. Ask to meet the individuals who will work on your account. (Larger firms are known for doing a bait and switch -- they wow you with the brains of the business then assign a very junior staffer to your account.)
- Ask for proof that they can do what you need them to do. This is REAL important.
- Consider a veteran solo practitioner. You want someone who's been doing this awhile working on your behalf. Contact your local chapter of the Public Relations Society of America and ask for the names of a few good solo members.