A vending-machine approach to PR? On spec? Get real

Flaws abound in one entrepreneur’s proposal for a marketing business model.

Flaws abound in one entrepreneur’s proposal for a marketing business model

A Wisconsin entrepreneur’s online offer last week might be amusing if it didn’t reflect a distorted view of marketing communicators.

At a professional discussion area on LinkedIn, the owner of a personal care products firm proposes this “challenge for public relations firms”: “If you can get my product written up in the following newspapers, we will pay you an agreed-upon, fixed price.”

A publicity vending machine, in other words, except that the client would deposit money after his selections are dispensed. Sounds like a business model inspired by J. Wellington Wimpy of Popeye comics fame, who famously said: “I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.

What flips this proposed agreement, straight out of the World of Bizarro, from comical to cautionary is the belief—not confined to one Milwaukee-area business owner—that public relations equals buying media coverage. In newspapers, of all places.

Look at how the question posted March 24 begins: “PR firms always suggest they can get your company/product published in major newspapers around the USA.”

Really? In what alt.universe?

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