PR missteps: How to avoid foolish PR

PR, PR Pro, PR Tips
April 1, 2019
by Laura McCormack

We’ve all heard the saying “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”, whether you agree with the old adage or not, I think it’s safe to say that this principle should certainly not extend to your PR efforts.

A few missteps often spell the difference between successful and unsuccessful public relations. Here are some key mistakes to avoid if you don’t want to seem like a PR fool this April 1.

 Failure to plan

It’s important that you develop a cohesive image of your company or organisation. This is one of the most fundamental aspects of a healthy PR approach. A clever approach to PR will have a clear strategy, positioning the company you’re representing favourably.

Too often, bad PR is the result of bad planning, if you haven’t developed a clear goal for your PR, your efforts might seem like a series of random and disconnected actions. Rushed, unplanned PR often leads to a number of mistakes that will do you no favours in the long run.

Sending out bad press releases

There should be a strong intention behind the sending of any press release. Sending out a release purely because you haven’t done so for a while is not a reason to send one. If you’re sending out a release, the message you’re trying to convey should be cohesive with the image you are trying to build around your organisation. The message should have a purpose and a clear point of interest.

Not being concise

If you’re sending out a pitch, you should always ensure that you are being succinct. Most PR professionals out there are also excellent writers but a pitch is not always the best time to flex creative writing muscles. A busy journalist who has hundreds of press releases in their inbox won’t thank you for a long, unwieldy piece of copy. It’s important that you present your message in a way that is both interesting and to the point. Remember your journalistic fundamentals here—a pitch should contain the who, what, when, where and why of a story.

 Not being aware of your audience

Knowing your message is one thing, making sure your target audience is interested in it is another. Most companies have a story to tell so it’s important that you find yours. The area of common interest between you and your audience is your ‘magic slice’ and will help you to deliver your message in a way that is both relevant to your company and of interest to your target audience.

Lack of media awareness

You might have pitch-perfect copy and an excellent story, but a lack of media awareness is the surest way to sink any PR approach. A fundamental of public relations is not just how to tell a story but when to tell it and who to tell it to. Find journalists who might be interested in your content and build mutually beneficial media relationships.

It’s also important that you pitch stories at the right time, sending out a story at 5 o’clock on a Friday is one way to ensure that your story doesn’t make it past the newsroom.

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