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Accountability, Frugality Driving Pay for Performance PR Trend PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Tuesday, 14 August 2012 10:01
Non-Retainer Approach Challenges Top Public Relations Firms

The recession has fueled a growing trend in the public relations industry – and not everyone’s happy about it.

More and more top public relations firms are moving away from the traditional retainer-plus-billable-hours fee structure to “pay for performance.”

Business leaders have been noting the increasing numbers of these non-retainer agencies for about 15 years, with a sharp uptick since the recession began in 2008. But no one seems to know exactly how many there are.

“We don’t have any hard numbers. A lot of what’s out there is anecdotal,” says Arthur Yann, a vice president of the Public Relations Society of America. “The first of these I can recall started in the early ‘90s.”

Pay for performance agencies promise certain actions or quantifiable results, such as media placements, for a fee. Some agencies offer refunds if they don’t perform; others guarantee quantifiable results. The approach appeals to companies with slimmed-down marketing budgets, individuals and smaller businesses that want pay-per-click-style accountability. The agencies say more clients leave satisfied – and come back for more.

Retainer firms tend to be disparaging. These firms usually charge clients a monthly retainer fee and then bill for time actually spent working on a campaign. That simplifies billing for everyone, they say, because there’s no way to measure the value of every action they take and every result they get.

Among the nation’s pay for performance pioneers is Marsha Friedman, who launched EMSI Public Relations in 1990. Back then, she says, hers was one of only four such agencies that she knew of in the nation.

“Since it was such a new concept, I had to figure things out as I went along,” she says. “It’s still an evolving frontier; even the definition of ‘pay for performance’ differs from one agency to another. Some define it as the action or service they provide, ‘We’ll write a marketing piece and you’ll pay X for that.’

“At EMSI, our definition is getting actual media exposure. In radio, for instance, a client may pay a per interview fee to get booked on 15 talk shows within a given period of time. If we get them only 12 shows in that time, they can get a refund for three. With TV appearances, we book first and then bill. In social media, we guarantee a certain number of connections each month. In print, we measure in terms of circulation, or visitors per month for online publications.”

To address the issue of value, back in the ‘90s, Friedman developed a complicated grid system in which she set prices according to the placements EMSI obtained. For instance, when the agency got a client mentioned in a newspaper, he paid based on variables such as the paper’s size and the extent of the mention.

“You can imagine, when we got great placements, some clients had serious sticker shock. They’d say. ‘Stop! I can’t afford this!’ ’’ Friedman says. “That was a problem. We wanted to get the best placements for our clients, but a great campaign could quickly blow their budget. You don’t want to be in a position where your goals are in conflict with your client’s goals.”

So she abandoned the grid after just six months, but she notes many newer agencies – and those switching over to pay for performance – use similar price structures. She advises businesses exploring pay for performance options to make sure they understand up front exactly how they’ll be charged.

“Our goal is to get the most we can and the best we can get so that you will re-sign with us, which is why we contract for quantity,” she says. “But we aim for quality because that’s what gives us repeat customers and referrals.”

That approach is especially appealing to startups and businesses that have been struggling to maintain profit margins during the recession, notes ActSeed, a resource for entrepreneurs and startups.

“How much budget can we afford without some certainty?” wrote ActSeed CEO Bill Attinger.

“At the very least, a PR professional that lives by this model signals their confidence in bringing you material value.’’

About Penny Carnathan

Penny Carnathan is the Creative Director/Writer at EMSI Public Relations ( and a journalist with 30 years experience as a national award-winning editor, reporter and columnist at The Tampa Tribune in Tampa, Fla.  She is currently also a weekly columnist for the Tampa Bay Times in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Gov. Branstad sends letter supporting welfare work requirements to Sec. Sebelius PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Office of Governor Terry Branstad   
Tuesday, 14 August 2012 10:00

(DES MOINES) – Today, Gov. Terry Branstad sent a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius expressing his concerns over the weakening of work requirements for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.

In the letter, Gov. Branstad states, “I am concerned that your Department has watered down the most powerful element of the welfare reform efforts – a clear expectation that those who get temporary help from their fellow citizens must become self-sufficient through work in a timely manner.”

Gov. Branstad, along with Govs. Thompson of Wisconsin and Englar of Michigan, helped lead a bipartisan effort to reform welfare in the mid-1990s. Together, they worked with Congress and President Clinton to pass the landmark legislation.

Gov. Branstad continued: “The work requirements in TANF have been successful in Iowa. In 1996 when work requirements were implemented, Iowa had more than 86,000 Iowans on TANF. Today, Iowa has just over 43,000 Iowans on TANF. Work requirements have been instrumental in serving Iowans in this program.”

The governor also wrote, “Simply put, we believe the work requirements have led to greater long-term success for Iowans and the management of our TANF program.”

Gov. Branstad in releasing the letter said, “I understand President Obama while an Illinois State Senator opposed the Federal welfare reform efforts. The success of the reform efforts is evident across Iowa and the nation. However, that success did not prevent President Obama’s administration and HHS from diminishing the power that clear work and training expectations can play in improving peoples’ lives.”

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Historical Pieces Gain Renewed Recognition in State Fair Heritage Competition PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Megan Grandegeorge   
Monday, 13 August 2012 13:56

DES MOINES, IA (08/13/2012)(readMedia)-- Iowans take a trip through history with the Heritage Exhibits contest judged prior to the start of the 2012 Iowa State Fair.

Limited to genuine artifacts that are at least 50 years old, entries in the Heritage Exhibits division are evaluated on the authenticity and condition of the artifact.

The historical exhibits included colored or opaque glass, pottery, clear glass, china, toys, jewelry, paper, dry goods, furnishings, animal equipment, metals, small item collections, small glass item collections, primitives, large item collections and a special division.

Fairgoers can catch a glimpse of yesteryear by visiting the historical artifacts on display every day of the Fair from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. in Pioneer Hall.

Davenport Man Sentenced to 60 Months Imprisonment for Arson and Firearm Offenses PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Val Quast   
Friday, 10 August 2012 13:33
DAVENPORT, IA – On August 9, 2012, Cordell Lashell McDowell, age 24, of Davenport, Iowa, was sentenced to 60 months imprisonment, having previously pleaded guilty to arson and possession of a firearm as a felon, announced United States Attorney Nicholas A. Klinefeldt. United States District Judge John A. Jarvey also sentenced McDowell to three years supervised release following imprisonment.

On Monday, November 7, 2011, McDowell and two confederates kicked in the door of an apartment on Heatherton Drive in Davenport, Iowa. McDowell acted as a lookout as a couch and bed were set on fire in the apartment. McDowell also attempted to light the bathroom carpet on fire. The apartment building contained six separate units, all of which were rented at the time of the fire. Three days before the fire, McDowell had been in possession of two firearms. Since McDowell had previously been convicted of a felony offense, he was prohibited from possessing firearms.

The case was investigated by the Davenport, Iowa, Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and it was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa.

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New Book Urges Congregations to Return to Biblical Worship PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Author House Marketing Services   
Friday, 10 August 2012 08:35

Al Kinrade’s The Art of Worship examines accepted worship methods of today in the light of Scripture and urges a renewed humble approach to God’s worship

NEWTON, Iowa – In his new book The Art of Worship (published by AuthorHouse), author and pastor Al Kinrade has noted the divisions being created within churches today because people want worship to be conducted in a way that pleases them instead of what is pleasing and acceptable to God. The author does not accept the notion that this is an age-related phenomenon, but is a result of a lack of understanding of the Holiness of God, along with misinterpretations of Scripture.

The author describes his impetus to write thus:

I am very concerned about the future of the Church! I have seen too many attempts, by well meaning churches, to make worship more palatable for the younger generation, as well as at every age level. Many churches have been split over the matter of contemporary or traditional worship. This has resulted into two different congregations: one for the younger generation and the other for the older. I hear people complaining they no longer see their friends because they have chosen one or the other of offered worship formats. Is there not, even a hint of direction, given in Scripture as to how congregations should worship? I believe there is, and I like to call it Biblical Worship.

The Art of Worship does not defend either traditional or contemporary worship. Kinrade hopes that a unified Biblical Worship will begin to take shape and bring churches back together in a worshipful experience that is acceptable to God, while being an inspiration and a Spirit filled joy for all ages.

About the Author

Al Kinrade served the Lord through two denominations: the American Baptist denomination for 20 years and United Methodist Church for 22 years. In 1953 he received his Master of Theology degree from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Chicago. He was pastor of eight churches in Iowa and one in California. While serving in these churches, Kinrade has seen many changes in all denominations to make worship more meaningful, inspirational, and appealing to everyone.

When computers came into being, Kinrade saw the need to develop a computer program that would help students in his confirmation classes enjoy learning the Bible, along with Methodist heritage and polity. He called his computer program "Fun Learning the Bible," which covered the basics of Biblical truths for all ages.

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