Public relations has been around since the Ancient Egyptians.
They were not shy about getting the good news out far and wide about their Pharoah’s exploits. We can still read much of it today!
That said, people have been making the same PR mistakes for hundreds and thousands of years. These mistakes can be easily avoided with a bit of time, care, and experience.
Do you want to learn about how to do great PR and get the message about your new product or venture out to the public in the best way possible?
Read our guide to the nine most common mistakes people make with doing their own PR. From badgering reporters to mishandling your timing, this guide will show you what not to do and how to avoid a potential PR disaster.
1. Rushing Your News
You are excited to get your message out to the people. You want everyone to know about your great success or latest release. However, don’t make the PR mistake of rushing your news.
This mistake is all too common, especially among those who are new to the process or with entrepreneurs who are excited to break their news.
Don’t rush. You need to do your research before your release your news. Identify your audiences, find the right channels and publications. Make sure you have developed a brand voice that speaks for you and gives the right impression.
Think about what threats there may be in relating your message and consider all the angles. Could this be a negative message from certain perspectives? Get an outsider’s opinion before you release.
Think about some of the PR disasters of the past that were rushed out to market without due consideration. Budweiser had an absolute disaster with their ‘Up For Whatever‘ campaign in 2015.
This tone-deaf message was met with outcry from rape survivors as the campaign pushed the drink as the ‘perfect beer for removing No for your vocabulary’. Disaster!
So, don’t rush. Take your time to consider your message and get the right angle for you and your product.
2. Late to the Party
Timing is everything in PR—just as important as not rushing your message to the market or even missing the boat altogether.
Trends move quickly these days, and if your campaign is online using social media, then even more so. You don’t want to miss out on a big scoop or comment too late on a trending topic.
Replying promptly to media leads is a big part of avoiding this mistake. Don’t wait too long and miss the opportunity. Make sure that you follow up on any potential contacts before they go to someone else for comment.
Don’t leave HARO requests hanging until the end of the deadline. You may have a few days to respond within the system, but the contact will move on as soon as they get their answer, so be sure to move quickly when they come and not miss your opportunity.
Ensure your media plan has assessed the best time to send a press release to the media. If you are working close to your event or launch deadline, make sure that you have given the media outlet enough time to respond. Don’t sit on your release too long as the reporter may have a later deadline than yours.
3. Poor Quality Control
Sending out a press release or article filled with typos, grammatical errors, or formatting mistakes is a great way to destroy your reputation with a media contact.
They do not want to spend time correcting your release for you and will think less of you as a contact if they do. As such, they will deprioritize your content when it comes in and put others before you.
Remaining on good terms with the press is essential to any great PR strategy. Such a small fix can have a huge impact on your relationship. Take the time to proofread your content when you have written it and before you hit send.
Needless to say, this goes hand in hand with the accuracy of your content. If you submit an article or release that is riddled with untruths and incorrect facts, you will tank your relationship faster than ever.
Take your time. Read and reread your content to make sure it is accurate and correct.
Make sure that all your contact information is doubly correct. There is nothing worse than a great PR piece with the wrong contact details going out to press.
4. Not Being Consistent
The all-or-nothing approach will win you no friends in PR. Don’t start your PR relationship with a contact in a flamboyant style and go all out only to start a drip-feed of content a couple of months later.
This will damage your relationships and give you a reputation of being unreliable, and you will lose your sources. Build a good foundation and relationship with your contacts by remaining in touch and providing content on a regular basis.
Regular and consistent content is key to a successful PR program. Make sure you have a plan to release content throughout the year. Some may be big stories, whereas others can be more run-of-the-mill content that keeps people interested in your brand.
5. Giving Up Too Early
It can be disheartening when you make a big release and don’t get an immediate response from your audience or press contacts. But this doesn’t mean you should give up on your campaign.
Journalists can receive a huge amount of pitches every day. At the bigger publications, this can be between 200 and 300 pitches. You have to patient and consistent in your approach.
Keep providing high-quality content that catches the eye of the reader. One or two may be passed over, but eventually, it will pay off. Once they see your value, they will continue to build a relationship with you that will succeed in the long term.
You need to build a relationship built on trust so that journalists can ultimately recognize your value. Demonstrate this by offering something new or different. Try new concepts or ideas and see how they stick.
Be persistent. Quitting at the first sign of difficulty or getting upset at things that you cannot control will result in nothing but frustration. Always remember they are doing their jobs too and may not be able to respond in the way you would like.
Stay focused and keep building the relationship. Alternatively, you could also make use of PR services like e-releases to help you get the best response possible. Click here to find out more about their online submission service.
6. Not Staying on Top Of the News
Keeping informed is your business; you need to know what is going on in your industry and the world. Reading newspapers and local media publications is a big part of this job.
You cannot expect to feed into a machine if you are not also consuming the content it produces. Trying to run a campaign within a vacuum is a good way to doom it to failure.
Stay informed and read the publications of the reporters you are contacting. Make sure you understand their voice and take on the news. This will inform your approach and how to best get their attention.
You also need to be aware of what is going on in your industry so that you do not clash your ideas with other PR teams. As we said before, poorly timed press releases can be a disaster. One way to ensure that they are mistimed is to not have any awareness of the news.
Tie your news to local and global events. Make sure you are aware of what is going on in your community and your industry and benefit from this insight. Keeping the blinkers on about the latest news is a great way to fail right off the bat.
7. Too Much Hype
Jumping on a hype train may seem like a great way to garner views and interest, but it can backfire just as easily. If the hype is unrelated to your industry, then don’t be tempted to try and jump in. You will appear desperate and corny.
Too many businesses try to over-hype a story that doesn’t fit with their brand. When a topic becomes too saturated, the media tends to stop listening. There have been so many Coronavirus-related articles in the last year that many outlets started banning this type of news.
If it is not related to your message, then stay off the hype train. Not all news is right for you. If you are forcing it to make it fit, then it is likely not the right route for you.
Focus on your message and hyping up your news. Not every trend is a good fit, but there are plenty that are. Do your research and find the trends that work for you.
8. Not Having A Story
Worse than trying to hype up news that doesn’t relate is trying to make a story out of nothing. Many PR executives submit a pitch that doesn’t even have a real story associated with it.
A release without purpose is just going to muddy the waters and make reporters pay even less attention to you. People will stop listening to what you have to say. Editors will see your submissions and not even bother to open your emails if they think it is just going to be another time waster.
Be consistent in your contact but make sure you have something important to say. Don’t try and make a story out of nothing. If nothing is happening, then take a look at a different approach.
Switch up your content from news to tips or success stories. There is always something you can write if you are creative. Submitting fluff pieces, however, is a quick way to get yourself on the blacklist.
Once a reporter has had enough of you and your empty content, it is challenging to get back into their good graces.
9. Poor Follow-Up
It is important to follow up on your story. However, too much and it becomes harassment. Too little, and your story may fall by the wayside and get forgotten.
You need to find the perfect balance, and it can be a difficult task to achieve. If your article is time-sensitive, then it requires follow-up. If it is an important piece, then it requires a follow-up.
If it is neither of these, then follow-up is not required, and reporters do not want to hear about whether they received it or not.
If your follow-up is too often or long, it will quickly become annoying. If you approach them in an unprofessional or offensive manner, you will gain a poor reputation. It is a tricky line to walk, but it is possible.
You need to develop a thick skin and learn from your mistakes. Many editors will brush you off as a matter of course. Some will be receptive to your requests and get back to you.
Learn to not take too personally and make notes on how and when is the best way to approach your contacts. Get to the point quickly. If you are timely and succinct, then nine times out of ten, you will get a more positive response to your request.
Avoid These Common PR Mistakes
PR can be a difficult path to walk with common pitfalls on either side of the route that is easy to fall into if you are inexperienced. If you are new to PR, then take this list of PR mistakes to heart and try and learn from others who have gone before.
Learning to do good PR is a skill that needs improving like any other. Keep working and learning from your mistakes and others. You will find the best way to get your voice heard with practice.
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