Should public relations agencies ever guarantee media coverage?

If you’re about to invest money in a public relations agency / PR support then the burning questions you might have could include: ‘will they be able to get me / my business media coverage?’ and ‘when or where will the coverage appear?’

So, should a PR agency ever guarantee clients media coverage? The short answer is no.

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A PR agency shouldn’t promise media coverage.

It’s a PR agency’s job to get their clients featured by the media – through something that we call ‘earned media’. The coverage is earned with PR, which can be through news, reviews, features, word-of-mouth, and ultimately means publicity for the company that’s featured.

We also look to get our clients exposure through influencers and speaker opportunities.

Publicity for a client, through a credible third-party (e.g. influencer or media), will ensure endorsement and credibility for the company in question, if it is positive coverage.

A public relations consultancy can also advise on ‘paid media’ – e.g. paying media / influencers for an advertorial / sponsored post etc. – and ‘paid’ usually means guaranteed coverage.

Authentic ‘earned media’ should be the aim of PR but coverage should never be guaranteed. Here are some reasons why it might not appear:

  • The story isn’t strong enough. A good agency will be able to advise on what a strong news story is (it’s our specialism after all) to get your business covered. By looking at an agency’s track record of achieving coverage (check out our case studies on our blog) is good insight into its skill for creating and telling a good story. Though it does happen when strong news stories aren’t covered either!


  • Didn’t make the final edit. Sometimes a journalist can submit an article or business mention to the outlet they are writing for but unfortunately the editor might cut it entirely, for some reason. We’re sure many PRs can relate to this at one point in their career – usually rare, but it does happen.
  • Unexpected events. With news outlet teams growing smaller by the day, journalists can be really stretched with heavy workloads. If you’ve got a story going out the same day that there’s a huge unexpected event like a terrorist attack or birth/death of a member of the Royal Family – that might completely ruin your chances of the story being picked up!
  • Politics. With so many pressures on the media to monetise, a piece might be ignored / pulled if a brand is running an advertising campaign in a particular title and the editorial featuring a competitor is a conflict of interest.
  • Another company beating you to it. Most PR people will be able to relate to this too – when you’ve had an amazing campaign / story idea that’s just about to go live, and then your client’s competitor runs exactly or close to the same story the day before! If that happens, it will most probably hamper your chances of success.
  • Incompetence. Luckily, the vast majority of journalists and influencers we work with are professional and great but it is possible that something could go wrong. Perhaps an influencer loses a product you want them to shout about or a journalist doesn’t file a piece due to reasons in or out of their control. This is unlikely but not impossible.

A good public relations agency will strive to get you featured in the right places, which will expose you to your target audience. If a piece of ‘earned media’ doesn’t work out, then a good PR firm will figure out how to rectify it!

It’s always worth asking to see an agency’s past results for real clients so you can see the quality of their work.

Interested in knowing how we might deliver good results for your business? Drop us a line!