These days, the world of public relations has become super-heated with instant communications necessitating lightning fast responses and outreach. Whether you work for a PR agency or are in-house, being good is no longer good enough — but working fast can mean that even the best PR pro will slip up occasionally.
Here are a few widespread PR mistakes that could impede your success and should be avoided.
- Being too close to your product
Let’s face it: getting too close to your brand, product or service can color your communications in ways you might not notice and which can undermine your efforts.
The reason is simple. You spend the whole day working on your “creation.” You are eating, living and breathing your product, and you are utterly excited about it. While your passion is commendable, your objectivity can sometimes go out the window, precluding you from fine-tuning pitches and collateral, spotting potential problems, or properly articulating your message without slipping into jargon or assuming knowledge your audience may not have — or care about.
It is crucial that you step back and assess your product and PR collateral through the eyes of a marginally-interested outsider who would objectively evaluate the situation and guide you in the right direction. You may also turn to your colleagues, friends or partners for a fresh perspective and make sure you always put yourself in your customers’ shoes.
In short: eliminate jargon, get rid of any “inside baseball” talk or concepts. You need to appeal to the man on the street or the reporter on the beat who’s inundated with pitches and doesn’t know your product or industry the way you do.
- Failing to hit the nerve with reporters
Cultivating solid relationships with the media is hard work and it takes more than blasting mass emails to a laundry list of reporters. Yet many PR professionals continue “poking” busy reporters who may not be ideal targets for their announcements. In fact, constantly bothering the wrong folks may ruin trust, jeopardize relationships, and destroy credibility.
To increase your chances of success, you should pay your dues and research all reporters you may target, peruse their previous stories, get a feel for their editorial approach, review their bios or even pay a visit to their social media accounts. Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? But if you do your homework and learn as much as possible about reporters, carefully customize your pitch, and contact the right person at the right time, your efforts will pay off and help you generate bigger and better results for clients.
- Refusing to challenge a client
The customer is always right. Unless he isn’t.
Contrary to popular belief, the customer may be wrong and lack objectivity, especially when it comes to promotional materials. Much like a PR pro who is too close to his or her product or service, your client may be too attached to an original idea or the way they have been marketing their offerings.
You are paid for your counsel, so keep counseling even when you disagree! Choose your battles wisely, but remember, if your press releases, pitches and other collateral are not compelling enough, the call to action is too weak, or the images do not convey the strength and value of the offering, have the audacity to speak up and insist on making a change. And in the end, your client or boss should thank you.
- Failing to integrate PR, social media and SEO
Failing to embrace new ideas, new technologies and new media, and continuing to adhere to old-school thinking can impede your progress and make you vulnerable to the competition.
PR is about attracting as much attention as possible to a product or service. To achieve that scenario, SEO and digital marketing need to become more PR-oriented, while traditional PR should always include social media platforms and influencers. Only if you integrate new technologies and long-established PR tactics, will you be able to effectively leverage your efforts and provide the highest-quality of service your client deserves.
This means using social media as a two-way street: Monitor the dialogue that’s going on among your customers, competitors, partners and the media themselves. Not only will you be able to react to timely issues and trends, you also will know what matters now to your constituents and come up with proactive pitches that touch nerves and can be integrated by reporters into timely trend stories.
And when it comes to SEO, PR and marketing teams should be joined at the hip thematically. Make sure to integrate the same concepts and keywords into offline and online collateral to help your brands’ websites organically rise in search engine rankings for searches that are relevant to timely events and to the products and services being proffered.
Bottom line: In PR, like in any other business, mistakes are bound to happen. If you do everything in your power to avoid PR tactics that do NOT work, you are more likely to increase your chances of success and build long-lasting and productive professional relationships.
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