Discover the valuable insights you can gain from analyzing bad PR pitches and improve your own pitching skills

To improve your PR campaigns, it’s important to learn from the mistakes of others. In this article, we will explore some common PR pitch blunders, including being overly aggressive, failing to personalize, and neglecting research. By avoiding these pitfalls and following our tips, you can create more effective PR pitches. We will also showcase successful examples to inspire your own strategies.

Whether you are a seasoned PR professional or just starting out, learning from bad pitches can help you refine your skills and achieve better results.

What can you learn from bad PR pitches?

Bad PR pitches impart several significant lessons, including:

1. The importance of personalization

Numerous bad PR pitches fail to tailor their messages to the recipient, resulting in their pitches being disregarded or even deleted. Personalizing the pitch according to the individual recipient, considering their specific interests or needs, significantly increases the chances of a successful pitch.

2. The value of relevance

A pitch that lacks relevance to the recipient’s needs or interests is unlikely to succeed. Bad PR pitches teach us the importance of conducting research and comprehending the recipient’s requirements, interests, and preferences before sending out a pitch.

3. The impact of timing

Timing plays a crucial role in PR pitching. A pitch sent at the wrong time, such as during a busy period, can easily go unnoticed. Understanding the recipient’s schedule and timing the pitch accordingly enhances the chances of success.

4. The power of clarity

A clear and concise pitch has a higher likelihood of success compared to one that is overly complex or confusing. Bad PR pitches teach us the significance of clarity and brevity in our pitches.

5. The value of persistence

Bad PR pitches highlight the importance of persistence. Just because a pitch is rejected once does not mean it will never be successful. Following up and trying again can increase the chances of success.

Overall, bad PR pitches teach us the importance of personalization, relevance, timing, clarity, and persistence in our PR efforts.

Examples of bad PR

  1. Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner Ad: In 2017, Pepsi released a commercial featuring Kendall Jenner that received widespread criticism for co-opting the Black Lives Matter movement and trivializing social justice issues.
  2. United Airlines’ Passenger Removal Incident: In 2017, United Airlines faced a major PR crisis when a passenger was forcibly removed from a flight, leading to public outrage and a significant drop in the company’s stock price.
  3. BP Oil Spill: In 2010, BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion caused the largest marine oil spill in history. The company faced severe criticism for its handling of the crisis and incurred billions of dollars in fines and legal settlements.
  4. Nestle’s Baby Formula Scandal: In the 1970s, Nestle was accused of marketing baby formula to mothers in developing countries where clean water was often unavailable, resulting in malnutrition and infant deaths.
  5. Volkswagen’s Dieselgate: In 2015, Volkswagen admitted to installing “defeat devices” in millions of diesel vehicles to cheat emissions tests. The scandal caused a significant PR disaster for the company and resulted in billions of dollars in fines and legal settlements.

How to avoid bad PR

Avoiding bad PR (Public Relations) requires a proactive approach to managing your brand’s reputation. Here are some strategies you can employ to avoid negative PR:

1. Be transparent

Be open and honest with your customers and stakeholders about your business practices. If you make a mistake, take responsibility for it and address it openly.

2. Monitor social media

Keep a close eye on what people are saying about your brand on social media platforms. Promptly respond to any negative comments or complaints and take the necessary steps to resolve the issues.

3. Develop a crisis management plan

Establish a plan to manage a crisis before it occurs. This plan should outline your response strategies, assign responsibilities, and detail how you will communicate with stakeholders during a crisis.

4. Prioritize customer service

Deliver excellent customer service and ensure your employees are trained to handle customer complaints effectively. Happy customers are less likely to speak negatively about your brand.

5. Be proactive

Take preventive measures to minimize the likelihood of problems arising in the first place. Conduct regular risk assessments and implement measures to mitigate potential issues.

6. Work with a PR agency

Consider partnering with a reputable PR agency to help manage your brand’s reputation. They can provide valuable insights and guidance on how to avoid bad PR.

Remember, maintaining a positive reputation is an ongoing process that requires constant attention and effort. By being proactive and transparent, you can avoid bad PR and build a strong, positive brand image.

What factors contribute to bad PR?

Several factors can contribute to bad PR, including:

  • Misconduct or scandal: Engaging in unethical or illegal behavior can quickly generate negative publicity and damage the reputation of a company or individual.
  • Poor communication: Failure to effectively communicate with stakeholders, customers, or the public can result in misunderstandings, rumors, and negative perceptions.
  • Lack of transparency: If a company is perceived as hiding information or being evasive, it can generate suspicion and distrust among stakeholders and the public.
  • Poor customer service: Negative experiences with customer service can quickly spread through word-of-mouth and social media, leading to a tarnished reputation.
  • Product or service quality issues: If a product or service fails to meet expectations, it can result in negative reviews, reduced sales, and damage to the brand’s reputation.

The bottom line

Bad PR pitches offer valuable learning experiences for both PR professionals and journalists. From these mistakes, we can learn to prioritize personalization and research when crafting pitches, avoid using overly promotional language, and respect journalists’ time and interests. We can also learn to be strategic in our outreach, focusing on building relationships and offering unique and relevant angles to journalists. Additionally, we can learn to take rejection in stride and use feedback to improve our approach. By embracing these lessons, we can increase the effectiveness of our outreach and build stronger relationships with journalists, ultimately leading to more successful media coverage and brand exposure.

How Pressfarm can help with your PR pitches

Do you need help connecting with journalists? Pressfarm offers quality media outreach services which can generate the publicity your startup deserves. The PR experts at Pressfarm are skilled at helping startups to connect with the best journalists to tell their story. For starters, they build custom media lists for each client, containing media contacts in their specific industry. In addition, each client gets access to an extensive media database of over 1 million journalists across industries.

With these contact details, you can reach out to the media whenever you have a story to share. If you need help with the pitching process, Pressfarm also has pitch templates that you can adapt to your situation. Beyond helping you connect with the right media professionals, the Pressfarm team can also create quality content to share with these contacts. From writing press releases to developing feature stories and designing creative media kits, Pressfarm has what it takes to help your brand capture media attention.