Without the right guidance, a company’s public relations efforts may potentially destroy its image and brand. Through research, there are plenty of things that companies should avoid when trying to establish relationships with journalists and their target audience. But, a handful stands out as some of the biggest grievances that companies should avoid.
In this article, we will look at:
– Things to avoid in Public Relations
– How to avoid them
Things to avoid in Public Relations
For a company
1) Having too much pride
In the PR world, a company with too much pride can hurt them significantly. Of course, it is perfectly normal to be happy and have a sense of accomplishment when a successful company. However, suppose a company does not understand the importance of doing the little things and being humble through the public relations process. In that case, they will be considered a turn off for many media professionals and will not get the media coverage they hope to achieve.
2) Not having a proper plan
While most companies may have a general plan in their minds, they may not have thought about the specifics of their idea and objectives. By only looking at PR activities in a superficial way, it can cause further problems in PR strategy planning and do not give companies enough time to establish a crisis management plan.
Whether it is about their industry, their target media professionals, or audience, not doing the right research will prove to the industry that they do not have sufficient knowledge to emerge into the market. From the lack of planning, a company may run the risk of their plans being inconsistent. Rather than looking at the big picture, they focus on one aspect of it. For example, if a company states that one of its main goals is “increasing brand awareness,” they need to measure everything that goes into trying to reach their goals.
Through lack of a plan, companies may choose popular communications channels but not good for them specifically. The simple answer is that they did not do enough research to see that media channels and journalists are appropriate for their target groups.
3) Hiring expensive agencies
Tying in with the previous point, a company without a solid plan may not achieve. That may not mean that they are incapable of developing a project; they may need some help. It might be in their budget for established companies to pay thousands for a marketing/PR agency, but there are PR professionals and agencies that do the same work at a fraction of the cost.
The PR professionals and writers at Pressfarm can work with companies and startups with a smaller budget to help them achieve media coverage at a lower cost. Their PR packages are fit for whatever a company needs; they will help create media content like email pitches, press releases, and press kits to distribute to journalists and media outlets. They can also help the research process by providing a PR database of journalists and influencers so that companies can narrow down their target media list. They also help companies increase their release visibility in relevant search results across major search engines.
Sometimes it is better to work with PR agencies that produce quality content rather than one that is too expensive but may not do the best job or do a very similar job than a smaller agency.
5) Only focusing on the big guns
The whole point of public relations is to get noticed by well-established and high traffic media outlets. Many companies focus their efforts straight on big outlets because many of them have proven that they help bring a mix of high-impact coverage and saturated coverage in more niche communities; they help build credibility and obtain high-exposure placements they help with SEO. However, there are plenty of media channels out there that companies should not forget about.
6) Getting upset
If a company doesn’t achieve media coverage, there is no reason to get upset. Especially with journalists, there is no point getting angry if they may have made a mistake because it damages the relationship. Of course, if the content needs to be changed, it can be pointed out, and suggestions can be made for it to be fixed but in a respectful way.
In the case of journalists ultimately not picking up a story, that does not mean that the pitch is salvageable. It just means that the company needs to go back to the drawing board and try to spin their content creatively or create another media list with different journalists and media outlets that may better fit their target.
Since Public Relations is about developing and maintaining relationships with journalists, some common sense things that should be avoided are alienated and annoy.
1) Not doing the research/planning
As mentioned previously, proper research and planning are essential steps for companies to know everything there is to know about the industry. The same goes when trying to send out a pitch or press release to a journalist.
One of the biggest pet peeves of journalists is receiving mass emails from companies trying to reach multiple journalists and media outlets at one time. That tactic will do some damage to companies because it shows that they are only communicating with journalists for the sole purpose of getting media coverage. They often forget that it is about relationships and that they need to put in the effort to connect. Journalists are getting pitches daily, and for companies to stand out, they need to be personable and getting to know the person they are writing to, their content, and their audience.
2) Long, dry emails
We all live relatively busy lives, we all have deadlines, and journalists are no exception. If anything, they are the ones that have to focus on their deadlines more. Because of this, they do not have the time to read emails that are long-winded and boring.
First of all, they are most likely only going to click on an email that stands out. If a headline or subject line is generic and does not provide something others may have, the whole pitch could be sent straight to the trash or overlooked. That one line is what makes or breaks a pitch. Content is also crucial because if there is no clear message, journalists will not understand and consider reading the pitch as a waste of time.
3) Over the top self-promotion
Yes, public relations and press releases are meant to be a tool to get a company’s name out there. However, public relations are about reaching out and possibly making a difference in people’s lives or talking about something interested in it, by sending out materials that are solely self-promotional shows that a company is only focusing on themselves and has not put in the thought process of how their brand, product, or service will impact the industry and people writing.
4) Being vague
A press release needs to have all necessary information but also be clear and concise. A huge mistake that companies can make is being vague and providing misleading information. Journalists are not only writers but also researchers. They will most likely do their research for the piece that they are going to write. If companies do not provide enough or misleading information, a journalist will eventually find out and feel like they have been lied to.
5) Constant follow-up
Once an email has gone out, it may take some time for a journalist to respond. Doing a follow-up a few days after the initial pitch goes out is expected so that companies will be in the journalist’s mind. However, continually following up with multiple emails and phone calls will make a company seem needy and annoying. Journalists are very busy, and they do not want to feel like they are being bombarded to write a story. Following up is an essential part of a public relations plan but effectively.
How to avoid & plan for PR Crisis
We have now looked at some mistakes that companies should avoid within themselves and communicating with media professionals. Let us look at how companies can prevent a PR crisis and plan an appropriate crisis management plan.
In today’s digital age, news, complaints, and other reviews are sent out within seconds. We are all human and make mistakes, but for companies, it is essential to be prepared before a crisis might emerge to ruin a brand’s reputation possibly.
1) Make the ethical choice
As mentioned before, poor planning can cause many problems for a company when trying to obtain media coverage and get the word out there about their brand to their target audience. Some issues can include but are not limited to adding the right information to a pitch, giving an appropriate response to any doubts a journalist or media outlet might have, or making the decision to change or recall a product or service due to bad reviews. If anything, to avoid a PR disaster, companies need to make the ethical choice for their business’s longevity.
2) Be transparent
Being transparent about all information about the company leaves little to the imagination of potential customers, and there is less for people to worry about. A company’s transparency in its brand and messaging gives customers an idea of what to expect, and the company will gain the respect that leads to trust. They will also present themselves as a thought leader and expert in the industry.
3) Use analytics and monitoring tools
One of the best ways to understand possible issues that may arise is through actively monitoring online media, whether it is owned or earned. Companies can use those tools to figure out whether their efforts present results, what works, and what does not. They can either continue what they have already been doing or change it up to fit the needs of their target market.
4) Thinking before acting
Much like everything in life, it is vital to think through a situation before acting thoroughly. Companies that want to present themselves as authorities in their industry need to think about every aspect of a business before coming up with a plan to make it a reality. By doing so, they avoid possible problems that may arise. They will reap better results from the time they took to figure out a healthy plan, the journalist or media outlet, and their target audience.
5) Be responsive
Whether it is communicating with a journalist or a potential customer, it is imperative to stay alert and be responsive to any questions or issues they might have.
In a journalist’s case, a company may receive a call or email if a story is about to break that might expose a brand disaster. The best way to stay on top of the problem is to talk to the journalist as soon as possible and do everything to get the right story, statement, and action plan to them. There may not be a concrete plan of action, but replying that the company is trying to sort it out will give journalists a chance to hear their side even if they may have had a biased opinion previously.
6) Search for early warning signs
Using monitoring and media intelligence tools will monitor brand mentions and use them to set up searches on essential keywords and channels. For companies to actively understand issues, they can start making lists of things that have already happened to know what to do when they return, are amplified, or have spawned another issue.
They can keep an eye out for executives, competitors, industry news, events, possible controversy, and complaints. Potential customers, journalists, and analysts generally look to high-ranking executives for their information because they have established themselves as authorities in their fields. Companies also need to see what is being said about their competition because it is possible that a crisis they might have could happen to them. It also gives companies a chance to be the first to respond to any negative statements presented about them from the competition. Companies can keep track of how their industry is perceived because it is possible that a PR crisis can hit them by association.
Public relation is an essential part of any company’s chance of getting media coverage. However, many elements go into it that companies may not be able to achieve their media outreach goal without the right experience. Looking at some common mistakes that companies can avoid within themselves and talking to journalists and their target audience is just one step. Creating an effective PR strategy can take a lot of time and effort. They may be able to achieve it on their own, but they can also get help from PR agencies at a reasonable price to stay within their budget and get what they need with their PR efforts.