Should PRs guarantee press coverage?

There are lots of things we can guarantee when you work with Carnsight. We can promise we will take time to get under the skin of your business; we’ll be creative with how we help you to reach the right people and we will make good use of your existing content. One thing we are always clear on is that, as PRs, we will never guarantee you a specific piece of media coverage.

It’s something that probably went without saying a few years ago, but agencies and PRs are increasingly popping up with guarantees of being featured. That’s either a specific amount of coverage, or coverage in a particular title. This is why we’re never going to go down that route.

Working with media, not for them

We will always ask if you have a publication in mind and it’s part of our job to advise on the right way we can target them and the right opportunities to go for. We can also show you previous coverage we’ve achieved with them. They may be newer to us or we may have good contacts there, but part of our role is to share with you how they could be reached.

However, it’s never our decision – or that of any PR – what’s covered by them what’s not. And that’s why we can’t give a guarantee. Even if our pitch goes really well and is loved by the journalist, they themselves are often are working into other decision-makers such as editors. And even if you’re included in the copy they file, things regularly get passed over or cut as part of the publishing process. It’s out of our hands and often out of theirs.

It’s not a numbers game

We give guidance on coverage that might be achieved, but we never guarantee xx pieces. Firstly, it’s a bit meaningless – not all pieces are created equal. One nationals spread might be right for one project or client, whereas a series of niche pieces might be better for another.

Secondly, if you get eight good pieces but have been promised ten, where are those other two going to come from? Will they be quality places? Or will they be add-ons to make up the numbers but that don’t really move the dial?

If it’s worthy of coverage, it will get it

OK maybe that’s a bit simplistic, but we’re honest and realistic and if we don’t think your product or story has a good shot at getting in a certain publication or on a TV programme, we’ll tell you. A good PR should have a decent idea of what would work where, and, conversely, what will be a very hard sell.

We’re happy to try things out and often do, but there’s also no point us repeatedly pitching somewhere that has previously said no. It won’t help you or your product and it won’t help your PR in the longer term.

Some things take time

Equally, we might need to wait for the right angle to get into a particular publication. We might need to wait for a top 10 or a particular business feature or even an event, like Valentine’s Day. It might take a longer-term strategy. Guarantees tend to operate within a fixed term, and that’s not always realistic.

Our relationships are paramount

Journalists and PRs should have good relationships. There are times when a contact chooses to feature something we’re promoting over others because of those relationships, which is great. But there are also times when that’s not possible. We need to be providing them with consistently good content and pitches and if we don’t, the relationship will break down. That’s why we need to be realistic from the start.

A guarantee of a mention is an advert

There is a way you can get into any publication or any channel with your brand – you can even dictate the exact messaging. It’s called an advert. Joking aside, a sponsored post or opportunity (an advertorial of old) could be the right approach for you, and we’re happy to discuss whether or not that could work. Especially drawing on our experience in marketing. But that’s not so-called earned media, that’s paid-for.

There’s nothing better than securing a great piece of coverage for a client. It’s still a thrill and it’s one of the reasons we all love what we do. But to guarantee a person, business or product will feature at any stage would be misunderstanding the discipline.

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