Many times a client thinks that their monthly PR retainer is paying for results in media placements but really it is paying for the time and labor on your account to try and get those media placements.
To break down how this works is that a publicist spends many hours each day, week and month on a PR client's account. This is labor intensive as once the press release and press kit is ready it is submitted to the media. This is done through your publicist pulling media contacts from their database and then targeting them through emails and phone calls. Once the emails are sent out there is a lot of follow up by the publicist to see which media are interested in your client's story. The first follow up may be making sure the media contact actually got and saw the email. Then did the media contact have a chance to review or read the email pitch. Then is the media contact interested in the story. Then is the media contact interested in the story now or possibly in several weeks from now or in a month or two. Some media will respond by saying this is not a story we can do right now. Or this is not a story we are interested in doing. Next is the media who say we are interested right now or we are interested in the near future. The near future could be in several weeks or sooner. Many PR clients may ask about the ROI, the return on investment which is different since publicity is not paid advertising. A publicist has no control over a writer, editor or segment producer in guaranteeing a media placement. If any publicist ever tells you that they can "guarantee" media placements that is basically a lie and you should not work with that publicist. There are some publicist that may try to do this to get you to go with them and sign with them. A publicist can do a great job in pitching your story to the media and getting ongoing media placements. Your monthly PR retainer is paying for the time and labor for your publicist to do the actual work on your account to run your PR campaign to try and get results.