How to Avoid PR Rip-Offs

“I just paid a small fortune to a big, PR agency and have nothing to show for it!”

“We hired a freelance copywriter, and he took our money and ran.”

“I paid a lot of money for media placements. Isn’t that how it works?”

Yes, folks. These are just some of the unhappy questions I hear from entrepreneurs on a regular basis. And I can understand why.

There is a lot of information out there so it’s easy to rely on an outside consultant to help you get through the maze of PR, social media and search-engine-optimization activities available.

But before you hire that expert, here are a few things to keep in mind:

PR Does Not Equal Press Release.

When someone mentions that you need public relations, do you think of a press release?

While press releases (especially SEO press releases) are an important part of public relations, that’s not what “PR” is all about.

Many of you are already aware of this. But in a nutshell, public relations is basically sending out a specific message to a targeted audience for a desired result.

And the main point of creating this “buzz” is to get your target market, and media members who cover this market, to talk about your products and services. This creates third-party credibility that you simply can’t buy.

And this brings me to my next point:

PR Does Not Equal Paid Media Placement.

Yes, these days many publications are only writing about people who advertise in their publications (I understand money is tight right now, but in my opinion, this is an unethical, journalistic practice), but with public relations, you do not need to pay for media placements.

That’s advertising.

The whole point of public relations is to share an interesting story that people will want to talk about. This means that you can develop the story yourself, or pay someone to do it for you.

But note that when you hire a publicist, you are not paying for the actual media-placement. You are paying for that skilled expert to develop and pitch stories to the media for you. And when media members report these pitched stories, these are the media placements that offer the valuable, third party credibility mentioned above.

With advertising, the credibility of the media venue talking about your business disappears.


People know it’s a paid placement and that you are trying to sell them something. The same goes with a press release that your company issues. People know you created and posted it so there is no third-party credibility: the news is coming from you.

And as a side note, be weary of the publicist who can guarantee a media placement. This is impossible unless the publicist personally writes and publishes the story.

After all, the final decision on publishing a story depends on the publisher, producer or editor: not the publicist.

PR Does Not Need to Be Expensive.

Now, as I mentioned above, you can do your own public relations and not spend anything to get some great media coverage.

(Insert shameless plug here ““ Check out my new book, “Simple Publicity ““ How to do your own public relations to boost sales, awareness and credibility without spending a lot of money at

However, this does take time and effort for the research, media contact and follow up so you may want to look for an outside expert for help. Just be sure to check references, know who will be working on your account and how much time will be spent on your account, and ask about all fees in advance so there aren’t any surprises.

A good publicist (or any outsourced consultant for that matter) will communicate with you frequently, learn as much as possible about your industry and provide regular reports so you know what is going on and where your money is going.

Well, these are just a few, quick tips about public relations to help you understand what it is and how to avoid spending too much money to build buzz.

After all, I hate to see fellow, small business owners get ripped off!

I’ll provide more tips soon. In the meantime, if you need help or have questions about your SEO copywriting and publicity efforts, please let me know here or at

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