Why Do Most Entrepreneurs Say They Hate Hiring a PR Agency? Here are 6 Reasons Why


entrepreneurs discussing what they hate about hiring a pr agency

We’ve heard it, and I’m sure you have too—a lot of entrepreneurs and business leaders hate hiring PR agencies. 

As a PR agency—ouch. But we get it. 

They don’t want to deal with back and forth. They want the agency to just “get” them from the get-go, with little to no fanfare or explanation. In a lot of cases, they’re expecting mind readers.

While we don’t have a crystal ball and we can’t predict the future, we understand that PR is a big investment. Entrepreneurs and business leaders need to be able to quantify and predict results, which can be hard in the PR world. 

Reason #1: They think a few media hits aren’t worth the money.

What they see are the earned media opportunities that PR secures—the bylines in trade and top-tier publications, podcast opportunities, interviews, and more. But are a few media hits really worth the money? Does it actually move the needle? 

YES, and here’s how: 

  • Earned media helps build brand awareness. It makes your brand visible, and visibility leads to credibility. 
  • Earned media leads to authority. When you position your company, yourself, or your executives as thought leaders, and get them mentions or bylines in reputable publications, or guest spots on reputable podcasts, people listen. We trust the publication, and therefore, we trust those that the publication chooses to feature. This is a key method for validating your company or spokesperson’s credentials and building trustworthiness. 
  • PR helps increase your share of voice—the share of the market that your brand owns. The more of the market you own, the more likely buyers are to view your brand as a safe bet. 

Reason #2: They feel that they’ve been “burned” before.

We’ve all been burned, whether it be with jobs, relationships, or in business. 

But not getting what you expected out of a relationship with a PR agency doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve been burned. A frustrating fact of B2B PR is that it takes time. If you are working with an agency that isn’t providing results—it may be that they are laying all the groundwork, and the results are on the way. 

To effectively pitch your company’s story, your PR team needs to know who you are, your messaging, your differentiators, your industry, current trends, and more. So, if you are waiting on hits that just aren’t coming, check in and make sure that your expectations are in alignment with their timeline. 

On the other hand, if your PR team has been “working on it” for a few months with nothing to show, it might be time to find a team with better connections and more know-how.

At Zen, we provide a thorough onboarding timeline so our clients know exactly how we get to the Bullet Points & Blessings level.  

Reason #3: They don’t want to deal with the media.

A lot of times, a client is nervous or hesitant to deal with the media for fear of being misquoted, misrepresented, or needing to write a professional-level byline piece. But in most cases, it’s just that the client has not been properly trained on how to communicate with the media. After all, proper training for interviews is crucial so that key messages don’t get misconstrued.

If you need support when knowing how to interact with the media, ask your agency for media training. If you have trouble putting pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard), consider hiring a ghostwriter. At Zen, we provide both of these services (wink wink). 

Related reading: Ghostwriting: Be the Expert, Outsource the Rest – Zen Media

Reason #4: They expect a lot of wins while paying very little compensation.

We’ve all heard it before: A client wants top media placements but wants to pay very little to a PR agency to get there. When the scope of work is not detailed and agreed upon by both parties, it causes miscommunication. Sometimes PR agencies don’t spell out how many hours or placements their compensation provides, and that disconnect leads to customer frustration. 

Here’s the truth: PR is a big investment. To get a skilled team with a strong network of editors, podcasters, and more—you have to spend real money. The good news is that a strong, strategic public relations strategy can create higher lead gen and conversion rates. So yes, it may cost some upfront capital, but the ROI will take your company to the next level.

Reason #5: They don’t realize that what happens after getting publicity coverage is sometimes more important than the actual placement.

When business owners first start working with a PR agency, their gut reaction is usually “I want to be included in a major media outlet.” This mindset can lead them to turn down smaller press hits and opportunities that just don’t feel major enough. And that’s a big problem. 

Press begets press. The more press you get, the more other publications take notice, and the easier it is to get placements in those other publications. In fact, many of our clients start getting organic press hits during the account because the press we get for them sparks the interest of other publications. 

It’s not always about what outlet you get publicity from; it’s what you do with that publicity that matters.

To make every hit count, you need to ensure that each hit is visible to your buyers and to the media. How do you do this? 

  • Amplify your press hits on social media.
  • Post about press hits in your newsletter or on your company blog.
  • Use your press hits in pitches to other publications or podcasts. 
  • Create a press page on your website and keep it up-to-date. 

Think of each hit as a stepping stone. It’s up to you to lead your buyers and the media along the pathway. The more you connect the dots for them, the more likely they are to follow your path and to want to add to it through organic press or UGC. 

Related reading: 

Reason #6: They don’t want to be flexible when it comes to story angles.

We get that you have a story you want to tell. But when business owners limit themselves to only wanting one type of coverage—like profiles, for example—they risk losing media interest. Listening to what the media is asking for is key. When you pitch more than one angle, it shows the media that you’re not only flexible but that you have a lot to say. 

Your PR team should be tracking the news in your industry, in tune with the trends, and ready to craft stories that insert you into the conversation. Even better—they should have you leading the conversation.

Here’s the thing: While all PR agencies can get you hits, that’s where it ends for some agencies. This means your brand has spikes with strong visibility, and then things fizzle out. 

And, yeah, that makes progress hard to track. 

That’s why we’re all about amplification. Each hit is boosted and plays into a larger strategy. This means you can track steady growth in share of voice and avoid the highs and lows of traditional PR. 

Want to get the most bang for your buck with PR? Reach out.


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