10 Public Relations Mistakes You Should Avoid

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Let’s face it: even the most seasoned PR professionals make mistakes sometimes.  But the good news is, now you don’t have to be one of them!  The PR team at EZG compiled a list of our top 10 mistakes to avoid in PR so that you can begin your PR efforts with know-how and guidance. 

Mistakes1_july blog post

1. Setting unrealistic expectations
PR can be tough and achieving success can’t be boiled down to an exact technique.  As a PR pro, it can be difficult to predict what will “stick” with reporters and producers, so we must always keep in mind that just because a reporter said ‘no’ to a pitch at one time, it doesn’t mean they will scratch your source/story idea off their list forever. Sometimes it takes some time to see a story idea unfold, and keeping your (and your client’s) expectations realistic will keep your stress level down and make your wins that much sweeter.

2.  Adopting the one-size-fits all approach
Every PR client is different and requires an approach suited for their needs — techniques that might work for some won’t work for others.  By making sure you’re nimble and adaptable in an ever-changing media environment, you can ensure you’re making the right (and tailored) recommendations for your clients.  While some might benefit from receiving regular press release distributions, others will need a more social approach.  By expanding your services, you’re more likely to meet the needs of diverse clientele.

3. Creating a cluttered brand
Quality trumps quantity- always. When it comes to social media, everyone feels the need to take their brand online. If a client is going to be active on social media, make sure you come up with a strategy to produce engaging content that is relevant to their brand. It’s better to have fewer posts that follow a set strategy than a flurry of off-message noise.

4. Choosing the wrong medium for your message.
It’s essential to find the right medium for your message. Not everything your client or brand does warrants a news release. Not all information is created newsworthy. You need to think about what channel could be the right outlet for your message before anything else. Maybe a piece of company news would be more effective on social media than in a news release. Fully understanding different outlets available to you will ensure your message gets the attention it deserves.

5. Misleading a reporter. Or a client. Or anyone.
When your goal is to put two professionals together to get value out of an exchange of information, you better make sure they’re both clear on what they’re getting.  Blurring the lines that define that transaction with either party usually leads to a bad experience – and in the end, you’ll make the client, the reporter, and yourself look bad. Resist the temptation to over promise and instead just tell it like it is.

6. Skipping the research.
You can’t pitch what you don’t understand.  The deeper your knowledge of a subject, the more confident you’ll be engaging with reporters on a higher level about the substance.  And most importantly, you’ll be able to bring them real value and separate yourself from the many PR people that “smile and dial” their way through a list.

7.  Missing an opportunity to create news
When there is no news, create it. This philosophy is especially true for clients who want to create buzz by hosting events. Many PR pros miss opportunities when they do not encourage clients to market their buzz-worthy events to the media. Newer companies and start-ups tend to host events as a way to attract new customers, but promoting the event to reporters and producers can come as an afterthought.  PR pros should schedule meet and greets, press previews, and table-side interviews with notable event attendees to ensure coverage.

8.  Sounding like a broken record.
Most PR professionals fail to keep a record, and can sound repetitive with their pitching. At any given time, you should have a good idea of the reporters who “like” or follow a client’s page on social media. If they’re interested on social, they’ll probably be interested in targeted pitches.  While it’s unnecessary to track a single reporter daily, keeping track of who you have talked to and when you’d like to reach back out is a good idea.  Doing so will help you set meaningful goals for your PR efforts in the future, and determine what works and what doesn’t work.

9. Not answering journalists’ questions

If you attract attention from major media outlets, you can expect journalists to ask questions. If you’re pitching the story, you should be an expert on the subject matter (see #6) and ready to answer any questions the journalists have about your client or story idea.  How well you answer their questions can make the difference between publication and a missed opportunity. The PR professional must prepare for potential questions, and have answers ready just in case.

10. Avoiding the follow-up

Much of PR’s magic lives in a good follow-up. No one likes to be viewed as pushy or annoying, but more often than not, a writer or producer’s interest is gained after following up with a phone call or email. Our job is to support journalists by making their jobs easy- so we must always keep in touch with the right information. Not following up can almost guarantee your story will slip through the cracks. Trying different angles are carrying on a conversation with a reporter usually unlocks a relationship that can stand the test of time.

What mistake do you try to avoid in Public Relations?

 

 

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