Public Relations is a powerful communication tool used by businesses to create and maintain a positive Company image. Unlike advertising, your goal is not to pay for space in the media but to persuade the media to take an interest in your business and to write or report on your business activities. But what happens when something goes wrong? Misjudgements on the PR front can seriously damage a business’s reputation, so here are ten common pitfalls to avoid:
- 1. Poor timing. Timing is crucial – you need to consider lead time for magazines, newspapers, and other media in order to get your message out at the right time. Monthly magazines work weeks ahead of themselves, so make sure you plan ahead.
2. Poor choice of language. Jargon and buzzwords put reporters and editors off. Remember you are writing something for their audience so get to the point in plain and simple language.
3. Badly written press releases. Errors, omissions, poorly worded sentences, lengthy copy, and poor structure are all pitfalls that land press releases in the trash. You need to grab the reader’s attention, get quickly to the point, and follow up with information about the event or activity. Keep it concise and include all pertinent details.
4. Too much hype. Get your message across but don’t exaggerate and avoid generalisations.
5. Press releases without purpose. Make sure have you have news worth telling or your press releases won’t get published.
6. No news knowledge. If you want news about your business to appear in a certain magazine or media outlet then make sure you are familiar with the type of news they print and where your story might fit in. If necessary, use local or national events to help push your agenda.
7. No plan. Don’t just wing it – have a plan and a back up.
8. Staying inside the box. A lot of businesses stick with the same newspaper and radio plugs. Pitch stories, use social media and set up publicity events rather than relying on press and media releases.
9. Upsetting a reporter or complaining to the editor. Think very carefully before complaining about a reporter to an editor. If something goes wrong deal with it calmly and rationally. Focus on building a relationship with reporters and editors, rather than the publication of a single story. If you cause an unnecessary stink any future correspondence risks going straight into the trash.
10. Poor follow-up. If you want to be heard, be prepared when someone calls with follow-up questions. It is amazing how many emails and press releases omit basic information such as pricing or the date of an event.