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Great post! As part of Business Wire's measurement team I should thank you for mentioning us (though if I were scoring sentiment.....<smile>) I'm offering my own personal opinion here (not speaking for Business Wire) and I have to agree with Dan Gershenson that to make this work you have to be crystal clear about what constitutes "performance." I'd be the first to say that even noting the # of viewers of press releases, while a much better measure than impressions or placements, is only part of a communicator's or marketer's total strategy. As far as compensation goes, though, I feel that if creating press releases or writing advertising copy or producing any other "outputs" are part of the job you are doing for your client, I would want to be directly compensated for those duties. That fee can be hourly or flat.
Beyond that, I believe it is perfectly legitimate to negotiate a contract with your client that spells out achievable, measurable goals tied to business objectives and what you expect to get paid for achieving or surpassing those goals. As many others have said, you'd also need to incorporate specifics of what the client is expected to do.
Of course, the hardest part is all the measurement that needs to be done to figure out the portion of the clients's success for which you're responsible. Probably one reason some practitioners will do something easier.
2 years ago on Performance-Based Pricing in a Billable Hours Industry