Public relations (PR) is a growing field and a powerful avenue for private businesses and public organizations alike. It helps maintain a positive image in the public’s eye, generate traction, and translate that engagement into value and potential revenue. In many ways, PR can be seen as “free advertising.” However, failing to employ PR strategies wisely can have adverse effects and ruin a brand or company’s communication efforts. Even worse, it can hinder its ability to formulate good marketing strategies, forcing it to be in damage control mode rather than encourage proactiveness. In this dedicated guide, we’ll go over 8 of the most common mistakes in the practice of public relations and how to avoid them.
1. No Strategic Vision
Certainly, a recurring issue in PR is not having well-defined goals. Aiming to “improve visibility” or “increase brand awareness” is very commendable, but these objectives aren’t specific enough to come up with effective, successful strategies. Now, rather than rely on vagueness, establish clear goals that are measurable in time. For example, “increase awareness among target audiences by 30% within one year” is a precise and quantifiable business objective. Whether you use metrics from your own website or hire a third party, keeping track of your performance is what will help you determine whether your efforts are paying off. If not, consider other methods, or revise your initial goals.
2. Lack Of Research And Understanding
Invariably, targeting specific audiences (consumers, journalists, investors, etc.) requires PR specialists to conduct a good deal of research. This ensures impeccable campaign positioning and showcases a sense of authority and professionalism. Whether it’s a press release, a product launch, or an interview with a famous outlet, preparation is of the utmost importance. Unfortunately, many small businesses in particular only rely on the creative side of PR with the hope of engaging their audience. In reality, conveying a message effectively goes through informed research, understanding the target’s requirements, and hitting the right publications. Social media is also a powerful tool to guarantee good media coverage.
3. Irrelevant Pitches
Publishing stories and pitches with no real value is perhaps one of the biggest pitfalls of PR. What you broadcast to the public should always have relevance and be framed appropriately to gain as much traction as possible. Evidently, spreading no-news with a generic angle won’t yield favorable results or further your brand’s reputation. For business owners with no in-house PR, the consultants at https://www.ereleases.com/press-release-writing/ suggest partnering with a team of specialists to help you come up with compelling and news-worthy press releases. Not only will this impart substance to your messages, but it will translate into better visibility. As always, communication should be impactful, sharp, and to the point.
4. Poor Media Relations
To ensure your business or organization stellar coverage, it’s essential to build relationships with media and influential news conveyors. Having someone’s contact does not make a professional relationship; it takes time and openness to create rapport, trust, and be in a journalist’s favor. Perhaps the worst way to go about this is with excessive follow-ups, cold calling, and mail blasting. Do not simply expect everyone to reply to all your queries and feature you on their next issue. Instead, approach those outlets and journalists with whom you believe you could create a mutually-beneficial relationship. An active social media presence and keeping track of competitor’s coverage has its importance, too.
5. Bad Timing
Good PR is mostly about good timing. While you may have crafted the perfect pitch, going public too soon (or too late) can seriously hamper your communication and brand promotion efforts. While preparing to publish a story (in newsletters, social media, or in the press), always pay attention to what is happening in your industry. The same goes for large-scale marketing campaigns; you must study the competition and position yourself adequately to make a genuine impact. Otherwise, you won’t generate as much traction, and it might be months before a window of opportunity finally presents itself.
6. Too Much Self-Promotion
Too many companies and brands confuse public relations with downright self-promotion. At times, a proposed pitch or a brand-new initiative isn’t more than a veiled attempt at boosting the business’ image and visibility to potential stakeholders. While this might attract attention, chances are it won’t come across as genuine, thereby deteriorating the brand’s potential for recognition. Not to mention that journalists and news crafters won’t think twice before discarding your “story.” Circling back to the first point, every message you pitch must be relevant and bring value to your target audience.
7. Ignoring Red Flags
Reputation-building can be a perilous exercise if you don’t acknowledge certain red flags. Communication is a two-way street; not only is it essential for PR specialists to craft meaningful messages that will compel their audience, but it’s also imperative to listen to the public’s feedback. Complaints from online customers, rumors, or repeated accusations should never be taken lightly. Information travels fast, and if these red flags aren’t tackled immediately, they could cause serious and long-lasting damage to your business’ reputation. So, always have your ears to the ground, and never wait to address anything that might jeopardize your public image.
8. Neglecting Smaller Media
Last but not least, make it a point to reach out to several media outlets. While securing coverage from prestigious publications like The New York Times or Business Insider is bound to grow your audience base and propel your business forward, plenty of opportunities lie elsewhere. Especially with flourishing brands, target local newspapers, online media, or trade publications, even if they have relatively smaller readerships. Find out where your target audience searches for news and online content and reach out to those channels. After all, name recognition isn’t everything!
In today’s digital age, public relations has never been more important to the development of businesses across all sectors. Whether you’ve founded a tech start-up or operating a national cosmetics brand, the secret to PR is informed research, value, media relationships, and timing. By avoiding these common mistakes, you’ll succeed in building yourself a stellar reputation and overtaking your competitors.