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What You Need to Know About Public Relations and Avoiding Scams

Getting featured and or published in these large publications may be a goal that has been on your list for some time. You may have even contacted an agency that offers public relations (PR) services.

It’s not uncommon for PR agencies to charge $10,000 (or more) for a feature in a tier-one publication. Some PR agencies may even offer the opportunity to “get published” in a large publication.

You might have a budget to pay for PR but doing so could lead to you being blacklisted by one or multiple publications.

This article is going to show you what you need to know about PR so that you can make an informed decision. There’s a huge shift happening in the world of PR and large publications. It can be confusing to know what’s real and what to avoid.

A Shift In Journalism

Large publications such as Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Fortune, SUCCESS Magazine, Fast Company, O Magazine (and more) offer the opportunity to instantly raise brand awareness and create more credibility for featured or published businesses in these publications.

Entrepreneurs, writers, coaches, consultants, and agencies are always looking for ways to get their brand, business, and services visibility. Press, media mentions, and other forms of traditional public relations have helped businesses for hundreds of years. Having your company seen in publications online with millions of readers is an effective visibility strategy.

The world of journalism and media has shifted in the Digital Information Age. It’s not just staff writers, journalists, and editors that submit content to large publications. Outside contributors have the ability to published articles. You have to understand who does what at a large publication to understand whether the PR would be legitimate or illegal.

How Large Publications Work

On a large publication, you’ll find staff (editors, staff writers, journalists) and “contributors.” There’s a difference in what each of these roles can and cannot do on a large publication.

The staff (editors, staff writers, journalists) of a large publication gets a paycheck directly from the publication and has a vested interest in putting out great content that helps the publication grow. It’s their job to find and publish good content from outside experts, and offer analysis of what’s happening in the world.

99.9% of contributors and freelance writers don’t work for a publication. They tend to be entrepreneurs and writers who contribute content to a publication to build their business. They see the value in publishing content on a large publication and reaching that publication’s audience.

Most large publication content comes from outside contributors and freelance writers — not staff. For a large publication, having contributors submit content is a great way to get quality content without having to pay an employee. For a contributor, publishing content on a large publication is a great way to build your audience in a place that already has an audience.

How to Identify Scams and Fraud In Public Relations

We’ve helped over three thousand writers, teachers, speakers, consultants, agency owners, and online entrepreneurs get published and featured in over a hundred large publications. We’ve been published and featured in over eighty publications ourselves. We are also editors at the Good Men Project.

Before you invest in any public relations professional offering to help you get publicity, understand that it’s illegal for contributors or freelance writers to sell placements in publications. If you buy a placement, you put yourself at risk of getting blacklisted.

PR professionals and contributors can’t (legally) sell links, interviews, mentions, or guest posts in large publications. Large publications have contributor agreements and contracts that state you can’t take payment for links, mentions, guest posts, or sponsored content.


Does it happen? Yes, but it’s happening without the publication’s knowledge. When the publication finds out and always does, everyone involved will be blacklisted. Publication editors, from different publications, talk to each other about shady PR.

The Chief Editor of Entrepreneur Magazine, Jason Feifer, had some things to say about a Facebook post advertising placements. Editorial is never for sale. After Jason called this PR person out, this was his response:

“Most” publications are not paid for. This statement is false for a lot of reasons. Anyone who has ever tried to pitch a publication can tell you how hard it is to get a feature or be accepted as a contributor.

And no, you can’t buy a contributor account at any large publication. Being a contributor that can publish articles is earned media.

What this person and other PR agencies fail to understand, or outright ignore, is that just because you CAN pay for a placement doesn’t mean it’s legal. Again, a lot of placements happen without the knowledge or approval of a publication. That is the kind of PR that is a scam because it’s being done illegally.

Legitimate Public Relations

  • Do people pay for features? Yes.
  • Can paid-for features be legal? Yes.

But only if you and or your PR professional are not paying the freelance writer or contributor directly.

If you and or your PR professional pitch a contributor, editor, or journalist at a large publication and they choose to feature you because you have an interesting story, that is legal and ethical PR.

The key point is not money is exchanging hands between the source and the person publishing. 

This PR person and anyone associated with them is undoubtedly blacklisted at this point. Be careful who you hire for PR and who you take advice from. The quick way to being featured or published is probably not the best or legal way.

Large publications have cut hundreds of contributors recently. They’re cleaning up and are on heightened alert. If a PR person is trying to sell you placements, run away (fast).

How to Get Legitimate PR

There are some LEGAL ways to offer a mutual benefit to a contributor of a large publication in exchange for a feature. Consider using any or all of these strategies to get press on a large publication.

1. Offer to promote the featured article to X number of people on your networks.

If you have a following and or a decent email list, you can offer more exposure for the article, and by extension, that contributor. More exposure and page views for large publication articles are always good.

When a large publication article does well, the contributor gets better placement and more opportunities to contribute. That helps the contributor get more opportunities to grow their business. They will be responsive to that offer.

For example, Entrepreneur .com has three types of contributors. “Writer”, “Contributor”, “VIP Contributor.” Kimanzi is a “VIP Contributor” at Entrepreneur. He’s been writing articles there since 2014. He’s on their homepage of Entrepreneur dot com right now.

To get from writer to VIP contributor at Entrepreneur dot com, your articles need to crush it every time they’re published. You need some viral ones. The articles need exposure. That is why an offer for more exposure to more people (through your networks) is an appealing offer.

When you offer the chance to give a contributor more reach for their articles, that helps them go up levels at a publication. This approach appeals to contributors — especially if you have a large network.

2. Offer to run paid advertising to the featured article.

The same principle applies here. When you run paid ads to a contributor’s article, it gives more exposure to the article and contributor. A small investment in ads goes a long way. And, this is ethical because you’re not paying for the feature. You’re offering a way for the article, contributor, and large publication to get more exposure.

Even large publications like it when someone is willing to pay for advertising to increase the reach of an article. You don’t have to offer to spend a thousand dollars. A few hundred bucks can bring a lot more exposure to a large publication article, and by extension, you and your business in that publication. It’s great brand credibility.

3. Offer an in-depth look at something a contributor wrote about in the past.

If a contributor wrote about building funnels, offer a glimpse into one of your successful funnels. If they wrote about mindset challenges, offer them the opportunity to see content, studies, case studies from an expert (or from you) on mindset stuff.

Give the contributor what they might not have access to. Share content and information you don’t share publicly that could help strengthen their article.

4. Pitch newer large publication contributors.

Seasoned contributors create content based on a content plan. We know what we’re going to write about. A newer contributor probably doesn’t have all that figured out yet. When you can offer ideas and angles that lead to several pieces of content for a contributor, they’re going to be willing to listen.

Find the contributors to large publications with only one to three articles published. They’re about to enter their contributorship journey and will be hungry for new good ideas. Offer them content by featuring what you teach.

Show them a specific angle that aligns with what they write about. Don’t make this about you, your book, your course, or whatever. Neither staff nor contributors will care about any of that. Make this about how featuring you, around some specific angle, leads to value for the publication’s audience.

Focus on the value, takeaways, and how your expertise fits. This is always about publishing interesting stories, but the article has to have practical takeaways for the reader. Help a newer large publication contributor craft that angle for an article and you could get featured on a large publication.



If you’re not sure how to create a pitch for large publications, check out our $27 workshop here

If you’d like to know the exact steps to get published in large publications, plus get ongoing support and lots of templates, check out our Published & Paid community