Is Guaranteed PR A Myth?

  • March 15, 2022
  • Josh Steimle

Julie complains, “I get so frustrated by public relations agencies that guarantee results. Both for myself and for the client. In the world of PR, there are no definitive guarantees.”

“PR efforts are NOT guaranteed,” Jennifer says. “It’s our job as PR pros to open the door of opportunity for the client, but it’s not always in our hands.”

“We do earned media, which means exactly that: it’s got to be earned,” Parry states. “The only guaranteed media is paid advertising.”

“There are no guarantees in PR,” echoes Rhiannon. ” If you want a guarantee, buy an ad.”

Can all these PR experts be wrong? Is there really no such thing as guaranteed PR?

They’re not wrong…but it depends what you mean by “guaranteed.”

Most of the time, when a PR professional shouts, “PR is not guaranteed!” what they mean is that they cannot promise certain things. For example, nobody can promise that:

  1. The article you’re mentioned in will be published on a certain day, or within a certain time frame
  2. You can get into the publication you want
  3. Your favorite journalist will write your article
  4. Your topic will get covered somewhere, at all
  5. Your article will be positive, rather than negative

I would never promise any of these things…but I will guarantee them.

Promises vs. Guarantees

What’s the difference?

When I promise something, that means it will happen or I will die trying to make it happen. A promise is when someone gives their word.

I can’t promise exactly when your article will be published because the writer may decide he needs to bump a different article ahead in line, or the editor may take a vacation and forget to approve it.

I can’t promise you’ll get into Forbes, because maybe your topic isn’t covered by anyone there, or perhaps the one person who writes about your topic rejects the article.

I can’t promise your article will be written by Bari Weiss in the New York Times because she might get herself fired and decide she’s going to Substack.

I can’t promise your article about “Why Everyone Should Buy My New Crypto Coin!” will get published anywhere because crypto is too noisy and too hard to get placed.

I can’t promise an editor won’t take the positive spin we pitched a writer and rewrite the article at the last moment to make you look bad.

I can’t promise any of these things…or rather, I won’t even if I can because I don’t like to make promises that aren’t 100% within my control.

However, that doesn’t mean I can’t guarantee these things:

I can guarantee your article will be published (or least queued) within 90 days.

I can guarantee your article will go in Fast Company if that’s what you want, or Inc. if that’s what you want.

I can guarantee we’ll get a good, reputable writer to publish your article, and that it won’t be a Forbes Council piece or some sort of paid advertorial.

I can guarantee your article will be positive.

Or what?

That’s the difference between a promise and a guarantee. A promise is my word. A guarantee is my word that I will do what I guarantee, or else I will compensate you in some way for not being able to do what I guaranteed.

At Canvas PR, we guarantee our placements. If we don’t get your article published or queued within 90 days, you get 100% of your money back. It’s a 100% hassle-free, money-back guarantee.

Have we ever had to honor that guarantee? Yes. Our success rate is around 99.5%, but there have been a handful of times when for one reason or another things didn’t work out and we had to issue a refund.

Why Doesn’t Every PR Firm Offer A Guarantee?

I don’t know. But if some PR professionals are tired of hearing folks like me talk about guaranteed PR, I’m tired of hearing clients come to me and say things like:

“I hired a PR firm for $20,000 per month, and after six months they got me one article in Forbes. That was an expensive article.”

“I just paid $80,000 for PR, and I didn’t get anything!”

Or this one, I just got this morning from a friend whose company forced him to work with another agency. Things went bad in a hurry, and when I asked why, he said, “Huge promises in the pitch phase. Saying not only how well-connected they are but also that they will have somebody at our disposal literally 24/7 (as they have 3 offices globally). After we signed, it turned out they are super super hard to deal with and waiting 18+ hours for corrections of PR release was normal….”

I’m not saying working with a PR firm that charges a monthly retainer with no guarantee is always going to result in disaster. I have good friends in the PR industry who are honest, hard-working, and get good results. However, knowing you have to give the money back if you don’t deliver is a strong incentive to get results. And based on the stories I hear, it appears many PR professionals and individuals could use more of that type of incentive.

Our Promises

Not only do we make guarantees when it comes to PR, we even make some promises:

  1. We will operate 100% ethically in the placement of your article. We don’t pay for placement.
  2. We will be transparent in our process, hiding nothing. There’s no secret sauce, just great relationships of trust that took years to build up and a lot of hard work.
  3. Will will not take you on as a client unless we’re excited about the opportunity and confident we can get your article placed. The last thing we want to do is a bunch of work, only to disappoint you and have to give you your money back.

And while we can’t guarantee nor promise we’ll be the most affordable PR firm out there, our clients think we’re a great deal.

Want to learn more about working with Canvas PR? Contact us!