Public Relations has changed greatly in the last decade. The best practices that might have worked well for you or your organization ten years ago likely seem ancient and irrelevant now. The world of communications continues to change rapidly, and PR must and will continue to change along with it.
Communication can be tricky. We all experience poor communication on a regular basis in our personal and professional lives. As PR professionals, it is our goal to communicate effectively and efficiently to make sure our client’s messages are heard. Communication mistakes happen but many can and should be avoided.
Here are my top 5 common PR missteps you should avoid:
1. Is Your Story Relevant?
We all want to find placement for our clients, but the truth is, sometimes the story simply is not relevant. A few reasons why your story or pitch is irrelevant:
- It is not timely. COVID-19 is the perfect example of this. During the first few months of the pandemic, if your story was not COVID-19-related it was met with little to no interest. Always consider the timeliness of your pitch.
- It is of no interest to the journalist or outlet. It is perfectly okay to be picky when you build your media list. In fact, it is preferred. Select journalists and outlets that have an affinity to your topic or brand. If they are already interested in what you are selling, they will be more likely to respond.
- It is simply not newsworthy. The truth is sometimes the story that we have to share just is not newsworthy for a larger audience. As part of your PR strategy, you need to ask yourself if a story or topic has a strong hook, is interesting, and if it realistically is going to make a successful pitch.
2. The Wrong Target Audience
As I mentioned above, knowing your target audience’s interests is important. These days, there are plenty of ways to research your media audience. Social media and Google are great places to start. Find out their likes, dislikes, preferred types of articles, etc. Take a little time to see what journalists are writing about or find more information on an outlet before you decide to send a pitch. The more time you put into research at the beginning, the more effective your PR strategy will be overall.
It is always better to target a specific audience with a proven interest in your organization, brand, or niche. Otherwise, your message will likely be ignored.
3. Too Much—or Too Little—Follow-up
A follow-up email to a pitch is an important practice. It is a good idea to give your contacts some time to read and respond to your initial pitch before you send a follow-up communication. If you have not received a response within a few days, take time to send a friendly but brief follow-up. If you wait too long, your story is likely no longer relevant or newsworthy. If you follow up too soon you risk annoying your contact, and possibly losing them as a contact at all.
It is a best practice to follow up one time after your pitch is sent out, but no more than twice.
4. No Media Relationships
Public Relations is all about building relationships with your target audiences. But these relationships take time and effort. Often it will take multiple sends to the same contact before your pitches are noticed. Some ideas for building better relationships with the media include:
- Personalize your pitches: use their name and explain why you feel they are the best fit for your story.
- Learn about your contact’s interests or usual beat so you only contact them when a story is relevant.
- Email simply to introduce yourself without any direct ask, especially if you are a new contact.
- Engage with journalists via social media by giving a like or comment on their work.
5. A Lack of Honesty
Credibility and authenticity build trust among you and your audience. It is important to be honest always. Do not try to hide negative information. As they say, the truth will always come out. It is better to be proactive in response and honest to best manage the reputation of the organization.
Read more tips on how to handle crisis communications here.
If you are interested in Public Relations strategy or consultation to help protect your brand,
Infinity Concepts is here to help. Contact us today!