Performance PR: Easy Guide + 4 Best Performance PR Agencies (+Tips)

Businesses have the opportunity to only pay PR agencies once the agency delivers the results they promise. This means no wasted money, time, or resources on an agency that doesn’t do what they said they would. Instead, you can work with many top PR agencies on a performance-based model, guaranteeing success for your brand and reducing the financial risk associated with hiring an agency.

Almost 61% of brands outsource PR agencies to maintain and grow their brand image because it’s a far from simple endeavor.

But how can you trust that your PR agency will find the best customer-centric solutions to solve common marketing challenges and achieve significant results for your brand? You can’t unless you consider working with a performance-based agency.

These agencies, like any business, want to keep their lights on, giving them maximum motivation to find the perfect and most accurate strategies for your business. With this determination, more brands can rest assured knowing their reputation is in good hands.

We know you want to know all about how performance PR works, what a typical performance-based model looks like and which agencies offer this unique approach!

Well, you’re in luck! This detailed guide explores everything you need to know about performance PR and we found the best performance-based PR agencies with amazing track records to help your business in 2022.

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Let’s get started!

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    What is Performance PR

    Performance PR is a performance based model where businesses only pay agencies once the agency has achieved results. This model is a secure way for an agency to guarantee you’ll get the results you’ve paid for.

    Businesses that use agencies to gain traction and secure conversions aren’t sure whether the agency can actually help them. Agencies offering performance PR solve this fear by allowing brands to only pay once the agency does what they said they would.

    It’s not easy to find PR agencies offering a performance based model. But once you do, you’ll have the ease of mind knowing your money won’t go to waste. 

    Summary: What is Performance PR

    Performance PR is a model enabling businesses to pay performance-PR focused agencies once the agency has achieved the results they promised. These agencies specialize in PR services while allowing their clients to pay for services once the agency’s contract is complete. Successful performance PR isn’t easy, but with the help of these agencies, businesses have the opportunity to benefit from strategies they can rely on.

    How does Performance PR work

    Performance PR works similar to how one would go about hiring a typical PR agency, but with a few minor differences. This is what you can expect when working with performance-based PR agencies:

    • Consultation: Your agency will begin by evaluating your business and your current PR and marketing tactics. They’ll review your brand’s performance and data for an accurate idea of how well your brand is doing and where your weaknesses lie. 
    • Goal setting: Now your agency will understand what you want to achieve for your business. Are you looking for more exposure, more sales, more partnerships, ect. With this information, your performance PR agency will develop SMART goals for your business based on your objectives and their experience. 
    • Defining PR success: Once you’ve understood your current market position and clearly pinned down your goals, you and your agency must define what validates success. Taking this step is vital because how you and the agency defines success determines whether you’ll pay them or not. At this stage you’ll also set KPIs.
    • Developing a strategy: With all the information gathered above, your agency will start developing strategies for your PR campaigns. The agency will base these strategies on your target audience and SMART goals. Within this strategy you’ll know which social channels they find is best for marketing your business and which PR tactics are ideal. You’ll also define a timeframe for your strategies. 
    • Deploying and measuring the strategy: It’s time for your agency to put in the work and start deploying your strategies. They will also measure your performance weekly or biweekly to determine whether they’re achieving their goals. If you choose a reliable agency, you can expect 100% transparency during this phase.
    • Evaluating PR results and paying the agency: After putting their strategies to the test, your agency will determine if they achieved your SMART goals and KPIs. You’ll have to evaluate the outcome based on your initial consultation and goal setting stage. If the agency has done what they set out to, you must pay them based on the agreed upon amount.

    As you can tell, performance based agencies take a similar approach to typical agencies. The key difference is that you’ll only pay after a successful PR campaign.

    Source: Matrix Marketing Group

    Summary: How does Performance PR work

    Performance PR agencies work similar to a pay-per-service agency. However, the main difference is that businesses pay performance PR agencies once the agency has achieved the results they’ve promised. This is what the lifecycle of working with a performance PR agency looks like:

    1. Consultation
    2. Goal Setting
    3. Defining PR success
    4. Developing a strategy
    5. Deploying and measuring strategies
    6. Evaluating results

    Performance PR: Advantages and Challenges

    As I mentioned, not many agencies offer a performance-based model because while there are perks, there are also downsides to this approach. Here are the main advantages and challenges to consider before opting for a performance PR agency.

    Performance PR Advantages

    1.Less Financial and Time Risk for Business

    As you’re not paying before your agency starts working, there’s much less risk on your end. When you’re developing and deploying marketing campaigns, it’s vital for your agency to stick to what they told you they’d achieve. With performance-based marketing, your agency will have incentive to accomplish your marketing goals.

    But it’s not just the financial risk you don’t have to worry about for performance-based marketing. Businesses don’t have to stress about investing time into marketing strategies that don’t work. 

    Let’s say for example, you pay an agency for a robust marketing campaign that takes about three months. Yet after three months, you don’t see the results you wanted. While all that time could have gone to an agency that was going to pull results, you spent it working with an agency that can’t.

    Besides risking a waste of finance and time, there are also many risks you can avoid with performance-based PR agencies and these include:

    • Incorrect marketing strategies: Your agency has to get your marketing strategies correct to get paid. Consequently, they’ll do their best to ensure they use effective marketing techniques on the best social channels.
    • Lack of professionalism: Many agencies stop offering clear communication and general professionalism once you’ve paid them. You don’t have to worry about this for performance-based agencies. These agencies will provide the best experience to ensure you’re happy and they get paid. 
    • Inaccurate audience targeting: Defining your buyer personas is one of the most pivotal steps for every agency. Without doing this correctly, they won’t generate your goals even if they have the best marketing strategies. Performance-based PR agencies will do extensive research to define your ideal buyer because without doing so, they won’t get paid.

    2.Complete Transparency

    You’re probably not a digital marketing expert or you don’t have enough time to market your brand. Hence you’re looking for an agency to help you. Because of this brands like yours feel better getting progress updates. And you can rest assured performance-based agencies will provide these updates because:

    • They want you to have peace of mind knowing you’re dealing with a legitimate, results-driven agency.
    • Brands must understand how the marketing strategies are performing and if they can depend on the agency.
    • Based on the progress, your agency may modify aspects of your strategy to solve setbacks or enhance your approach. You need to know this information to understand how the agency is tailoring their services to your business.

    3.Brands Don’t Pay Retainer Fees

    Starting and maintaining businesses aren’t cheap, but luckily you don’t have to pay a retainer fee for performance-based PR agencies. You won’t have to worry about paying an agency hefty fees monthly without the promise of amplifying your brand. 

    Retainer fees are also separate from the money you pay agencies for performance. These added costs make it much more expensive to hire an agency. Fortunately, you can sit back and invest your money more strategically when working with agencies offering performance PR.

    4.Accurate Planning

    Performance PR agencies take a strong approach to ensuring they plan everything they need to strategically. This planning process includes components like:

    • What social channels are best for marketing your brand.
    • Who are your ideal buyers?
    • How would you gain the upper hand from your competitors?
    • How can your brand deliver a unique experience without replicating approaches that are tried and used.
    • Which marketing tactics are best in terms of value for money and are customer-centric?
    • What are your business weaknesses and how can you solve this?

    Accurate planning is one of the most fundamental keys to success. And because your agency has to achieve success, you can depend on strategic and well-rounded planning.

    5.Real-Time Analytics

    For businesses to know how well their agency is performing, real-time data is the best solution. Your agency will use real time tracking for different components of your marketing campaign. Real-time tracking allows them to understand how well or poorly certain aspects perform to modify their marketing approach.

    Let’s say for instance one of PPC headlines is driving web traffic through the roof. Your agency will then repurpose that headline because they understand it’s effectively grabbing your ideal buyers’ attention. 

    On the other hand, perhaps a few headlines are doing relatively poorly compared to others. The agency can then modify those headlines based on content that’s pulling results. 

    Summary: Performance PR Advantages

    1. Less Financial and Time Risk
    2. Transparency
    3. No Retainers
    4.  Accurate Planning
    5. Real-time Data

    Performance PR Challenges

    1.Brands Don’t Have Many Agency Choices

    I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll say it again – there aren’t many performance-based PR agencies out there. Although there are over 55 000 PR agencies in the US, a 4% increase from 2021, not many have a performance-based structure.

    Having such little choice compared to standard agencies, means you may have to settle with an agency even if it doesn’t tick all your boxes.

    Also, it may be harder to find an agency that works for brands in unique sectors. When choosing PR agencies brands have to consider:

    • How much experience they have in your industry.
    • How many experts they have for your desired services and goals.
    • How powerful their marketing tactics are.

    But with a performance PR agency you don’t have as much freedom and flexibility in getting the best for the above mentioned points. 

    2.You May Pay More in The End

    PR agencies spend about $10 billion annually collectively. This high figure sheds light on how it costs these agencies to provide businesses with PR experts and resources for successful marketing. But when you’re looking at performance PR agencies, these agencies risk losing out on a great deal of profit to guarantee you results. 

    Because of this, these agencies usually are more expensive than pay-per-service agencies. So while you don’t have to pay any upfront costs, you’re probably going to pay a lot more if the agency achieves your agreed upon goals.

    If your agency balances their risk vs rewards well in the beginning stages, this doesn’t mean you have to pay all the profit generated from your marketing campaigns. However, it’s best to clarify this before signing your contact to determine how much the agency will cost you after your marketing campaigns. 

    3.Complicated and Longer Contracts

    Remember I mentioned you have to define what success means for you and your agency? Well, this isn’t as simple as it sounds. Contracts with performance-based agencies are often much more complex than standard agencies. It has to be this complex to approach how you and your agency will handle matters for a variety of outcomes.

    Like what if your agency uses PPC ads that drive high amounts of web traffic around the same time seasonal trends occur? Or what if you get a separate contract for in-person ad space that ramp up your traffic volumes, creating a solid foundation for higher traffic volumes your agency achieved?

    There won’t be perfect solutions to approach how you’d differentiate conversions from other sources vs your agencies efforts. So, your contract would take a lot more time to articulate and would be much more complex.

    Performance-based contracts are much longer too, typically spanning one year. So, if your agency doesn’t achieve their desired results, you’ll have a harder time getting out of the contract and finding a better option.

    Yes, you won’t pay much but you’ll have to wait to see significant results for your brand.

    4.Marketing Strategies and Data Aren’t as Private as Pay-Per-Service Agencies

    Contracts with performance-based agencies don’t thoroughly prevent these agencies from using your marketing tactics for competitors. Or at least not as extensive as pay-per-service agency contracts.

    If your contract terminates or it expires without you renewing it, you could see your marketing tactics pop up from your competitors. This challenge is threatening as it will set your brand back and give your competitors the upper hand.

    5.Risk of Conflict

    With how much you have to articulate with performance-based PR agencies, there’s a high chance of conflict between you and your agency. The best way to avoid conflict is to pin down as many solutions to possible outcomes as possible. However, this won’t eliminate potential conflict completely.

    And because your agency has much more power to share your business intel and strategies with your competitors, malicious acts aren’t unrealistic to consider.

    Summary: Performance PR Challenges

    1. Limited Options
    2. Higher Costs
    3. Complicated and Long Contracts
    4. Competitors May Get Your Strategies
    5. Risk of Conflict

    4 Best Performance PR Agencies

    1.Sweet Spot

    Sweet Spot

    Sweet Spot

    Berlin, Germany 11 – 50

    Our Score

    4.7

     

    AGENCY SNAPSHOT

    Founded: 2018

    Number of Employees: 11 – 50

    Location: Germany, Europe

    KEY SERVICES

    • Performance PR
    • SEO
    • Content marketing
    • PPC ads
    • Social media marketing
    • Growth hacking

    NOTEWORTHY CLIENTS

    • The Sun
    • Travel Pulse
    • The Telegraph

    WHY CHOOSE THEM?

    Sweet Spot specializes in performance PR marketing and has worked with brands across over 100 countries and has featured in over 100 clippings.  This agency has services small, mid-level and large companies across various sectors. Sweet Spot is an ideal choice to build and nurture a conversion-driven online reputation.

    Sweet Spot is one of the best performance PR agencies in Berlin. This PR agency has worked with several popular publications and they deliver a tailored marketing campaign based on your goals and budget. High-quality mentions, backlinks, lead generation strategies and growth hacking tactics is how Sweet Spot achieves performance PR for it’s clients.  Plus, this agency is all about using proven data-driven methods to guarantee success for your brand.

    Swwet Spot Performance PR agency
    Source: sweetspotpr.com

    2.Agency THE

    Agency THE

    Agency THE

    Orlando, United States 11 – 50

    Our Score

    4.8

     

    AGENCY SNAPSHOT

    Founded: 2012

    Number of Employees: 11 – 50

    Location: Florida, United States

    KEY SERVICES

    • Performance PR
    • Web design
    • Paid search
    • Organic search
    • YouTube management
    • Facebook ads
    • Mobile app design
    • Web analytics

    NOTEWORTHY CLIENTS

    • Barnies Coffee
    • Mobile Help
    • Charisma Media

    WHY CHOOSE THEM?

    Agency THE is a promising solution for all kinds of brands looking for specialized performance PR services for creative and branding. This agency only offers PR performance-oriented services and has been around long enough to understand the best industry trends and strategies.

    Agency THE has an impressive track record for performance PR marketing. They’ve helped brands multiply their programmatic ad ROI by almost 17 times and 12 times for PPC acquisition campaigns. Brands can find all the services they need for performance PR from this agency, including YouTube channel development and management, web design and you can rely on Agency THE for a conversion-driven mobile app.

    Agency THE PR performance agency
    Source: agencythe.net

    3.InnoVision

    InnoVision_PR marketing

    InnoVision

    Sacramento, United States 2 – 10

    Our Score

    4.8

     

    AGENCY SNAPSHOT

    Founded: 2011

    Number of Employees: 2 -10

    Location: California, United States

    KEY SERVICES

    • Performance PR
    • Display ads
    • Branding
    • Graphic design
    • SEO
    • SEM
    • Customer review
    • Web design and development

    NOTEWORTHY CLIENTS

    • The Hybrid Heaven
    • Epicenter
    • The Laser Center

    WHY CHOOSE THEM?

    If you’re looking for a performance PR agency providing service beyond PR like branding and logo design, web development and analytics and social proof marketing, InnoVision is a brilliant choice. This performance PR agency provides all the key services for an impressive brand reputation, while helping small, mid-level and large companies.

    InnoVision has been around for quite some time and has worked with brands across a range of industries. You can benefit from performance PR marketing strategies within your budget and tailored to your target audience. What’s more is that InnoVision will also help optimize your My Business listing on Google, making it easier for potential customers to find and contact your brand.

    InnoVision performance PR marketing agency
    Source: innovisionbiz.com

    4.Lemonade Stand

    Lemonade Stand_marketing agency

    Lemonade Stand

    Riverside, United States 62

    Our Score

    4.8

     

    AGENCY SNAPSHOT

    Founded: 2012

    Number of Employees: 62

    Location: California, United States

    KEY SERVICES

    • Performance PR
    • SEO
    • Social media marketing
    • Retargeting
    • Backlink outreach
    • Reputation management
    • YouTube management
    • Creative media

    NOTEWORTHY CLIENTS

    • REMAX
    • Weigh Safe
    • RAGNAR

    WHY CHOOSE THEM?

    Lemonade Stand is the best choice for mid-level businesses and enterprises looking for expert PR performance marketing. This PR agency offers a variety of creative and technical services to help your brand manage all it’s marketing efforts. You can leverage tailored services for brand awareness, lead generation, growth hacking and conversion rate optimization.

    Lemonade Stand offers the full A-Z when it comes performance PR agencies. This performance PR agency offers guaranteed results for content marketing, social media marketing, retargeting ads and they can help you manage the social and creative aspects of your brand. Lemonade Stand has worked with business in various sectors and this PR agency can get you press release with major publications like Forbes, BuzzFeed, USA Today and American Express.

    Lemonade Stand for performance PR
    Source: lemonadestand.org

    Conclusion

    Consider working with a performance-based PR agency in 2022 because this means your business won’t have to pay unless the agency achieves their results. In other words, your business won’t waste money on an ineffective agency and you can rely on access to real-time analytics, transparent communications and accurate and strategic marketing efforts.

    However, there are a few downsides to working with these agencies that brands must consider before signing a contract. By understanding these challenges you and your performance PR agency can find the best solutions for potential problems.

    If you want to find the best performance PR agency in the US and Europe for your brand, consider InnoVision and Sweet Spot. Competitive agencies also include Agency THE and Lemonade Stand. There’s little risk in giving performance PR a try, so why not reach out to any of the best agencies and get started!

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is performance PR?

    Performance PR is a model where businesses only pay PR agencies once the agency has achieved the businesses PR results. This approach means less financial risk for the businesses, and gives you more confidence in working with an agency that guarantees results. This article has the top performance PR pros and cons to consider, the best agencies offering these services and details on how performance PR works.

    What are the best performance-based PR agencies?

    The best performance-based PR agencies include Lemonade Stand, InnoVision, Sweet Spot and Agency THE. These agencies allow brands to use their services and only pay for this once the agency achieves the goals they promise. Read this article to find out the key services these agencies offer, the disadvantages and challenges of performance PR and how this model works for businesses.

    What are the pros and cons of performance PR?

    A few of the pros of working with performance-based PR agencies include less financial risk, accurate planning, access to real-time data and complete transparency. The downsides to performance PR include limited options in the agencies you can work with, complicated and longer contracts and a high risk of potential conflict between your business and PR agency. Read this article for more details on performance PR pros and cons and the best agencies offering this model.

    References

    uSERP: The State of Backlinks for SEO in 2021: What 800+ SEOs Think About Link Building

    IBISWorld: Public Relations Firms in the US – Number of Businesses 2002–2027

    Sweet Spot

    Agency THE

    InnoVision

    Lemonade Stand