Top 10 Signs You Shouldn’t Hire a Publicist

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Should I hire a Publicist?

PR requires patience, dedication, and practice

Kris Ruby NYC PR Consultant


There are a ton of articles floating around about why you should hire a PR firm. I wrote an article on the top reasons why you should hire a public relations firm last year. But what I didn’t delve into is all of the reasons why not to hire a PR firm. Having run a healthcare PR firm for almost a decade now, I can quickly assess who is going to be a good client fit. If I sense certain red flags, nine times out of 10, I will walk away from the business prior to the start of a new client relationship.

Here’s why: PR is not for everyone. PR is expensive, time-consuming, and it requires a lot of work from the client as well as the agency.  Additionally, there are many misconceptions about public relations that can hurt your campaign efforts from getting off the ground. Not only is it important to understand what a PR firm can do for your business, it is also important to evaluate if you have the necessary time to truly work with an agency.

If you fit any of the criteria below, I recommend not hiring a publicist.

You want instant, overnight results. If you are someone who likes instant gratification, you will be unhappy with any publicist you hire, unless their Rolodex is made of gold. As a PR practitioner, I rarely meet other publicists who pick up the phone, dial an editor at Vogue, and instantly get their clients written about. That kind of myth is a remnant that still exists from the old days of PR. Publicity takes work. No matter how strong the publicist’s relationship with an outlet is, if the story isn’t strong enough, then the reporter isn’t going to cover it.

You don’t want to do any work. This is the biggest issue that I encounter in the PR industry today. People hire a publicist the way they hire an accountant. They think that they can hire a vendor, speak to them a few times a year, and that publicity will magically happen. In reality, PR requires daily engagement from the client-side. The clients who are happiest with PR results put the most amount of time into driving the client-agency relationship. They read the news, send stories to their publicists to pitch, and write back to their publicists with thoughtful responses to HARO queries. In short, they put in the time. PR is like a sport. It requires patience, dedication, and practice.

You don’t have the time to provide the necessary thought leadership content. As an industry, PR has shifted. Most clients don’t want traditional press placements anymore; they want digital placements. To achieve digital PR results, a substantial amount of time is required from the client-side to provide thought leadership tips for content creation. For example, if you are a neurosurgeon and you hire a publicist, it is not their job to ghostwrite tips for you. They simply can’t because they don’t have your knowledge base. Unless you’re looking for low-quality work from a content farm, you need to send your public relations specialist what they are asking for. They can’t promote your greatness without the core knowledge that only you possess.

You expect PR to translate into sales. Your publicist is not your Director of Sales. This is the number one reason most agencies get fired: clients are unhappy that the press placements didn’t generate a massive uptick in sales. The role of a publicist is to formulate stories that get the media’s attention and result in a media placement. If a publicist is getting you consistent national media placements, then they are doing what you hired them to do. The problem is when clients start complaining, “I know you got me a three-page spread in a glossy magazine, but it didn’t translate into new business.” That is the equivalent of saying to your dentist, “I know you filled my cavity, but you didn’t fix the pain in my jaw. The pain in your jaw should be seen by a doctor, not your dentist, and it’s not the dentist’s responsibility. The same goes for sales and PR.

You want to be “famous.” If you want to hire a publicist because you aspire to be famous, please don’t. Clients who hire publicists because they want to be famous are the worst clients. Saying you want to be famous is like saying you want to be President someday in the future. What qualifies you to be famous? What is interesting about you? What star-worthy quality do you have that makes you press-worthy? Ego-driven PR is not a strategy; it’s a waste of everyone’s time and money. Fame is the end product of many years of work in a specific industry. The publicist’s job is to bring attention to what you makes you special, not to make you special. 

You have nothing newsworthy to promote. I get that you have a new business. So does everyone. What makes it different? Why should the media write about it? If you haven’t thought these answers through, you need to. Unless you are looking for a one-hit-wonder PR campaign, you will be unhappy. Granted, it’s the publicist’s job to come up with these press angles, but if you don’t have newsworthy content, the media won’t write about you. If you hire a PR firm and have convinced yourself how newsworthy your story truly is, please don’t blame a publicist if they can’t get it placed. Your Mom thinking something is great is not the same thing as a reporter at Forbes thinking something is great.

You think PR will solve inherent business issues. A lot of people hire publicists thinking it will fix a core issue in their business. PR can’t solve these issues. If anything, it can make them worse. For example, if you are a Fortune 500 company and have constant turnover, chances are greater something pertaining to this story will come out while working with a PR person. The reason being that if a publicist secures a story on your company, any journalist worth his or her salt will start digging around and notice certain discrepancies. It’s best to have everything buttoned up before hiring a New York PR firm.

You saw a competitor on TV and now you want to be on TV. Believe it or not, this is one of the most commonly listed reasons that prospects come to me for PR services. They see someone else doing it, and therefore, they think they should be doing it too. If you hire a publicist to get you on TV and they get you a media hit, you are expected to drop everything you have scheduled for the day, close up shop, and run down to Manhattan to do national TV appearance. If you say no, the chances of the opportunity coming around again are slim to none. Are you really prepared to close your business for the day just because you saw someone else on TV?

You aren’t good with long-term commitments. When you hire a New York PR firm, you have to be in it for the long haul. The average agency retention rate is incredibly low; at the typical agency, every six months clients seek new agency representation. Clients run from agency to agency, thinking the problem was with the publicist. The truth is that you will be happier with your results if you stick with one firm for long enough. Most publicists won’t work on engagements for less than 6 months. If they are pitching long lead editorials in print publications, some of the placements may not even come out until after your relationship ends. The first one to three months of any new public relations engagement requires a lot of upfront prep work and the next three months requires heavy pitching to journalists and producers. I rarely encounter a new client who is ready to go to media from day one. The best PR client I have has stayed with me for 9 years. They understand the business and are in it for the long haul.

You aren’t willing to drop everything for a press request. When a reporter does answer; they want to speak to a client immediately. If you work in an industry where this just isn’t an option, then PR may not be the best approach for you. There is no worse feeling than getting a client an interview and not being able to do it because they are unavailable or turned it down. In the PR industry, there is nothing more important than getting back to a reporter or producer ASAP. If you aren’t ready to drop everything to speak to the media, then PR may not be right for you.

Remember, the tough part of working with a PR firm is not only evaluating whether they can get you results. If you are working with a reputable PR agency, I’d like to imagine they can secure results for your business.

The more challenging question is: are you willing to do the work on your end after they get you the segments and interviews? Or are you going to turn down every interview request and try to have the media work around your schedule? Hint: that will never happen.

You want to be known as an expert, but you’re not truly an expert (yet!). You must be a legitimate subject matter expert in your field before approaching an agency. A publicist can’t turn you into an expert. You have to be an expert to begin with, with or without the help of a publicist. A publicist cannot make up for a lack of expertise in your field. They cannot fill in the blank. They cannot make up expertise out of thin air. You must be a credible source to begin with before retaining a firm. If you are not, thought leadership PR will be a total waste of time, not to mention, insincere. No reputable PR firm will want to pitch you to their trusted relationships with media outlets if they don’t believe your credentials. Spend more time getting additional certifications and real-world experience before hiring a PR firm. PR is not a right; it is a privilege. Do the work required to step into the limelight. If not, any falsities or half-truths will be exposed in a very public way. To save yourself the hassle of a future crisis, retain a PR counsel after you have put in the time in your industry, not before.


If you have made it this far and are ready to hire a publicist, let’s get started!

Learn how to get the most out of your public relations agency investment:

If you’re working with a public relations agency, you must give the agency daily talking points about what’s happening in your industry, what your point of view is on the topic, and what your unique perspective is. If you’re not doing this, a PR agency can only take you so far because they don’t have your expertise and knowledge.

Don’t hurt your chances of PR success. Avoid these critical mistakes.

When it comes to media results, your analysis on the topic is what matters most for increasing success metrics. Without supplying your expert analysis on trending topics to your agency of record, you are kneecapping their ability to get you booked.

The media already knows you are an expert. However, they don’t know what your opinion is. Letting the media know an expert is available for commentary is simply not enough to get placed today. Your opinion on the topic that showcases your true expertise is required to push you over the finish line.

Pitching you to the media without your expert analysis will result in decreased bookings. 

Both the client and the agency have to be invested in the news in that client’s industry and take a proactive, take-charge approach. Conversely, as a client, you have to be willing to respond to their initiative and provide your take so the PR firm can do their job and pitch you to media outlets.

Successful long-term PR is a partnership between the client and the agency where you’re constantly reinventing the wheel and figuring out the answer to, “How can we take something and make it even better with a unique spin or a refreshed angle?”

PR is a constant cycle of business and personal transformation.

PR is about constantly reinventing yourself and your business. Reinventing the story of transformation to the actual transformation. Transformation is not static; it is an ongoing process and commitment to innovation. Reinvention is not the same as spinning. Reinvention means to make something new, as opposed to spinning, which is taking what is already there.

You have to put in the time. It takes so much time to do PR properly. You need a dedicated point person every single day to work with your PR firm if you want to make the most out of your investment.

“There are things that we need to get the work done. We need approvals, you need to read this story abstract, you need to read this caption for this picture or you just let us do whatever the heck we want. Most people don’t. You need to read that press release (if you’re actually still doing press releases), and they just sit there on people’s desks and they don’t get done. And then you’re wondering why nothing’s happening… because it’s all sitting on your desk waiting for approval.” -Lee Caraher

You have to be available. When the media wants to book you, you must be willing to prioritize the request.


KRIS RUBY is the CEO of Ruby Media Group,® an award-winning public relations and media relations agency in Westchester County, New York. Kris Ruby has more than 15 years of experience in the Public Relations industry. She is a sought-after media relations strategist, personal branding specialist, content creator and public relations consultant. She is also an on-air TV commentator and pundit on cable news. She graduated from Boston University’s College of Communication with a major in public relations and is a founding member of The Young Entrepreneurs Council.  


Ruby Media Group is an award-winning Public Relations Agency. We help Executives secure earned media exposure and publicity coverage through content marketing, traditional media relations, digital PR, SEO, and personal branding. We are responsible for helping 100+ C-Suite Executives land Tier-1 media placement for their brands and corporate ventures. 


Ready to hire a Publicist? Elevate Your Brand with Ruby Media Group

RMG is a full-service media relations and public relations agency located in New York. RMG strategically creates publicity plans to meet your unique PR goals while maximizing local, regional, and national media exposure. As an on-air television commentator and contributor for editorial outlets, RMG’s Founder Kris Ruby knows how to effectively pitch doctors, lawyers, executives, and medical experts to the media. Kris has built relationships with reporters, journalists, bookers, and producers for over a decade. The top NY PR firm receives media requests daily from producers and journalists looking to fulfill editorial needs, podcast booking needs, and tv booking requests. Want to be considered for these media interviews and publicity requests? Contact us today.

Contact Our Award- Winning Manhattan PR Firm Today

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Our award-winning PR firm has worked with clients all over the nation. Our clients are located in the following areas:

  • Manhattan, New York
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If you are eager to grow your brand and maximize your media exposure with the guidance of a top PR firm, then contact us today.



As a result of this article, NY Public Relations Strategist Kris Ruby was invited to be a guest on “Focus is Your Friend: Double Down on Marketing that Matters.” Click the link below to listen to the full podcast interview.

Episode 37: How to Know When You Shouldn’t Hire a New York PR Firm, with Kristen Ruby

What you’ll learn from this episode:

  • Kristen’s article “Top 10 Signs You Shouldn’t Hire a Publicist”
  • Why a NY publicist cannot get you instant, overnight results
  • Why you shouldn’t hire a NY publicist if you don’t want to do any work
  • Why you need to dedicate the time to do the thinking required for thought-leadership Public Relations
  • The unrealistic expectations placed on outsourced NY PR firms that isn’t placed on in-house PR
  • Why you shouldn’t do a PR campaign because you want to be famous
  • Why a good NY publicist cannot accept money for a story they know won’t get placed
  • The purpose of Public Relations
  • What Public Relations is and why it is so important for your business
  • Why PR cannot solve inherent business issues
  • Why you have to be willing to drop everything when a journalist calls
  • The top 5 reasons to hire a NY PR firm


“The idea that PR can just work in a vacuum is such a fallacy. Publicists can do a lot with a little bit of gas, but that gas is required.” -Lee Caraher

“I can interview you and I can ask you the right questions. And I can dig and dig until I get something out of you. But it requires you picking up the phone and talking to me as part of the process.”-Kris Ruby, Ruby Media Group

“For so many clients it’s this conversation of, ‘this is what we talked about, no, that’s not what we talked about.’ And that’s where you have to actually get people on the same page doing the same thing to form a thought that is not only relevant but also valuable to whatever the campaign is.”-Lee Caraher

“Remember, you are helping a journalist tell a story that they want to tell.” -Lee Caraher

When to Hire a NY PR Firm


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