A posting in PR Daily talks about 'How to Do Your Own PR' by Geoffrey James in Inc.com, and his perception of media relations. As the article points out, strategy, time and expertise are key to successful media coverage. A driving factor in why companies need PR is, most don't have the time to dedicate to media relations.  If you are paying a PR Firm and not getting results, then you have a problem.

Four things to expect from your PR Firm:

Media coverage. If your primary goal in hiring a PR firm is media coverage and you stated that goal clearly up front, then your PR firm should be finding a way to get you some. Period.

Messaging and storyline development. Is your PR firm working hard to tease stories from your company and find new ways to position your expertise? James calls this “devising a story worth writing about.” He’s right that reporters are always on the lookout for stories that would appeal to their audiences. A good PR firm will help you identify stories that work for reporters. (The trick is that these stories may not be the same ones that work for you or your sales team.) 

Proactive outreach. Your PR team should be leading the charge on how to position you to the media. By the way, that doesn’t always mean churning out press releases. A “pitch” is among the most valuable tools your PR counsel brings to the table. James offers some tips on pitching, but it’s really about relationships. You should expect your PR firm to have those relationships and use them to pitch your stories regularly.

Reporting. Media coverage doesn’t always come on a timeline we can control, so even a great PR firm might need a little time to place your story. That said, as a client you are entitled to know who is being pitched and when, what storylines are being pursued, and what the response from media is like—in other words, how is that retainer being spent. As far as I’m concerned, you also own the media list, so don’t be shy about asking to see it.