How To Pay Employees To Land Free PR
From my experience, you need to look for junior level sales people just getting going on a career (i.e. their twenties). This group is looking to gain experience, work for a cool company, have flexible schedules, and so forth. So that being said – here is how I would structure their pay:
- Salary: $40,000-$45,000/year – and this is as much as is needed.
- Bonus: $500/month ($6,000 annualized) – and it’s tied to them hitting 5-8 stories a month. Don’t set the bar too low (or too high).
I’d even be fine with putting the salary lower and the bonus amount higher once you know the rough numbers to expect.
- Special bonuses: I’ve had awesome success with putting in a special bonus program to focus the efforts on landing top media outlets.
List in advance which key outlets you want free PR in:
- Top five TV stations
- Top five radio stations
- Top five magazines
- Top five newspapers
- Top five online
For each specific outlet, identify how much you’re willing to pay extra for a full feature type story (i.e. a story about you, with photo etc.–not merely being mentioned in an article)
- This type of bonus ranging from $250-$1,000 per story can generate a ton of focus.
- Caution – don’t let bonuses for major outlets take your eyes off the prize: you still want to land five to eight stories a month per person. The last thing you need is a PR person spending all their time trying to “bag the elephant.”
Side story: One year I set up a bonus like this for five PR people – they landed 19 of the 20 outlets we’d set up on the list. And they split the bonuses they earned as a team. Plus – they hit 90% of the month’s goals too. Nice year.
The only things you really need to track are:
- How many total stories are you landing monthly? Don’t waste time tracking media impressions to come up with some fancy ROI. You’ll know after six months that it works, and for the salaries and bonuses you’re spending, you’ll get great ROI. Spending time over tracking things just wastes time where you could be pitching the media.
- Have you called back the writers you’ve pitched to? Keep a simple database in Outlook, Act or a similar contact management system, to track what you talked about and when you need to call them back. Keep it simple.
- Which writers will you contact again if they fail to express interest in your pitch the first time? If a writer shuts you down you should always call on them again in future with other ideas. I also call them in the future with the same angle with perhaps a new spin on it or when the business tide has changed to make your angle interesting again.
- The same writer for different stories in different publications has covered me. Many writers also write freelance for a variety of publications and can cover your story in a few of them. Always continue to follow up until you’re told to never call again!
If you really want to see results, start pitching the writers from the Associated Press, Bloomberg, and Dow Jones News Service. Even some of the regional papers work in syndicates, and your story could then run in multiple papers. Pitching one person from the Associated Press could get you into 100+ papers that same week (versus trying to pitch 100 writers). Leverage can yield huge results.
For more information on this topic, check out: Generating Free PR.