Should/Can PR agencies ever guarantee clients media coverage?

At many agencies, the problem with guaranteeing placement is that a senior executive makes the promise during a pitch meeting and the junior staff is left to deliver. It’s far easier for a CEO to hypothesize about story in the New York Times than for an Account Executive to actually place one. The Client relationship almost always starts out on the wrong foot.

If a PR executive starts promising coverage in exchange for your signature on a contract, your first instinct should be to walk away.

Whenever a prospective client asks for guaranteed placement, we see it as an opportunity to illustrate the difference between paid media (advertising) and earned media (public relations). Clients sometimes need a five minute refresher course on what PR actually is and how it benefits them.

Public Relations isn’t just “placing a few stories,” it’s positioning a Clients product or service so that people can see themselves using it. A proficient PR team will develop the Client’s voice in the marketplace and develop an ongoing dialogue via multiple communication channels such as the news media, social media, internal communications and more.

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