Why We Get PR Placements In Certain Publications And Not Others

  • October 31, 2022
  • Josh Steimle

“Can you get me into Forbes?”


“Can you get me into the New York Times?”

Well…yes, no, and maybe…let me explain.

PR = Relationships

No matter what PR firm you work with, effective PR is primarily about relationships and to a lesser extent, tactics.

While we generally tell clients we can get them into Forbes within 6-8 weeks, sometimes we get clients into Forbes within one week.

How do we do this?

It doesn’t happen because we send out 200 emails to 200 Forbes contributors asking them, “Can you write an article about our super amazing client?”

Many other PR firms do exactly that (I know, I still get their emails even though it has been years since I wrote for Forbes), but we don’t employ that tactic too often because it doesn’t work very well. In fact, we prefer not to depend on tactics at all when it comes to the PR pitching we do. Instead, we prefer to rely on relationships.

A relationship works like this:

Me: “Hey Jim! How’s it going!”

Jim (a journalist I know): “Hey Josh! Good to hear from you, what’s up? Oh, by the way, thanks for that article you sent me last month, I’ve been getting great feedback on it.”

Me: “No, thank you! I’ve actually got another article I think might fit your column. Want to hear about it?”

Jim: “Sure!”

Me: “It’s for a new client we just got, and she’s running a startup in Tampa, and I thought you might be interested since you write about…” [I go into my explanation about the client and why Jim might be interested in an article about her and her company]

Jim: “Yeah, that sounds super interesting. Want to send me a rough draft with all the info, same as before?”

Me: “You got it! I’ll get that to you tomorrow.”

Jim: “Great, thanks! I’m under the gun right now with deadlines, so I appreciate you sending these over to me, makes my life easier since you’ve done most of the heavy lifting for me and I just have to rewrite things a bit but I know I can trust all the info you’re handing over.”

Me: “We appreciate you but I’m glad it’s helpful for you.”

The key here is trust. Building a relationship of trust like this with a journalist takes time. If I reached out to a journalist I didn’t know and asked, “Hey, can you send you a rough draft of an article I think you’d be interested in publishing?” I probably wouldn’t get a response. I might even offend the journalist, who could feel like I’m insinuating they can’t do their own research and writing.

Over the past several years, we’ve developed dozens of relationships like this with writers we can pitch at a moment’s notice. We feel comfortable pitching them, and they feel comfortable telling us if what we’re pitching them isn’t a good fit, or if what we’ve sent them needs a lot of tweaking to be a fit.

The Publications We Have Relationships With

We have great relationships with a lot of publications, but not all of them.

For example, we know dozens of writers at Forbes, we know a few people at TechCrunch, and we know one or two people at the New York Times.

We have great relationships with the people we know at Forbes, pretty good relationships with the people at TechCrunch, and a distant association with the people at the New York Times.

That’s why, when a client comes to us and asks, “Can you get me into the New York Times?” we have to look at the details. If what the client does, and the kind of article they want, matches up perfectly with the few people we know at the New York Times, then maybe, just maybe, we can work something out. However, it’s not something we can cover under our well-known flat-fee guaranteed placement model.

Introducing Our Guaranteed Retainer

Even though we may not have a close relationship with someone at the New York Times, we can still pitch them, and any other publication. However, we don’t guarantee that placement.

“Wait, I thought you said you had a guaranteed retainer, but you can’t guarantee the New York Times, even on retainer?”

Bear with me…

With our guaranteed retainer, we guarantee at least one top-tier PR placement per month. However, we don’t guarantee what publication that will be in.

With a retainer in place, this gives us the ability to invest the time it takes to target publications you may want to be in, but which we don’t guarantee under our flat-rate fees, like Fast Company, The Verge, or the New York Times.

However, while we’re working on pitching those harder-to-get publications, we will also make sure you are getting placements in the publications where we have stronger relationships. This means you’ll see results, every month. No more, “We paid a high-priced PR firm for six months, and only got one article!”

With Canvas, your worst-case scenario would be, “We paid for six months, and got six articles in top-tier publications.” Again, that’s the worst-case scenario. With a retainer, we’ll be doing lots of pitches so you may end up getting several placements each month.

Learn more about our guaranteed retainer packages.