A story from the late, some say great, Tim Bell, who died aged 77 this August.
Asked how he would negotiate a fee for his expertise with clients, Lord Bell would offer. “It’s fifty thousand pounds.” If they didn’t immediately baulk at that, he would add: “A month.”
I think what this tale shows is that PR is very difficult to value. Flaks are trying to sell their services for the highest possible amount, but in the end will mostly take what they can get.
Clients with budgets to justify are looking for ways to measure what they are buying, a near impossible task that has led to the rise of PR Metrics, a dubious science to say the least.
So far as I understand it, it revolves around figuring out how much an advert in the Evening Standard would cost, say £30,000, then claiming that an article of equal length is worth exactly that. This is plainly rubbish.
Perhaps the truth about PR is the same as the old gag about advertising spend: you waste half of it, you just don’t know which half.
More simply, I’d say, if you have good PR, you do know it.