When done correctly, press releases can be essential and beneficial to a business. In the past, they have followed a traditional format, ignored the idea of social media, and have been left to journalists to craft the story. While that intends to have a journalist or influencer write the story, companies can and should also create their own by in a way that incites more action and gain more traction. They can either be written by someone within the company or an external source such as a PR agency or freelancer, but without mistakes that could hurt any effort of getting visibility.
In this article, we will look at:
- Common mistakes in Public Relations
- Press release mistakes and how to avoid them
Common mistakes in Public Relations
1) Not tailoring pitches and poorly written press releases
Media outlets get hundreds of pitches daily, so sending a generic email pitch is the most ineffective thing that a company can do. First of all, journalists like to know that they are unique, that the company has purposely sought them out because of their expertise in writing content in that specific field. Generally, reporters tend to specialize in just a few areas of interest. Still, even if a company sends a pitch to the right journalist, they need to customize the story to match the style and expectations of each media outlet. The main goal is to tailor messages to try and convince journalists to publish the story.
The next step would be to create a press release. However, it needs to be one that is aptly written and catchy. Besides writing a well-written piece, companies will also gain more traction if they insert interesting information and attaching background materials. Written content alone is not enough; it should also be enhanced by infographics, photos, videos, and links to other source materials. A great way to figure out whether the story will be picked up is to put themselves in the journalist’s shoes by asking what kind of message they would like to receive and whether it piques interest.
2) Being vague about who the message is for
This mistake ties in with the previous one because a common mistake is sending out the same email message to whatever media outlet is out there without considering the slants and interest of them and their target audience. By spamming and ignoring the relevance of the message to the target group’s focus will harm a company’s reputation, annoy people, and waste time that could have been used to tailor media lists specifically to individual fields of interest. This does take time and effort, but it will positively impact a company’s visibility.
Media lists are important because it is a concise list of target journalists and their contact information. Everything is in one place, and companies can customize and personalize their messages. Since it does take time, time that companies could use for other things, PR agencies like Pressfarm have created a media database with over 75,000 journalists and media outlets to filter to find their perfect match directly.
3) Expecting too much of readers
Companies need to keep in mind that they are not the only people wanting to send out a message. There is plenty of the same or similar content that circulates daily, and people are not just sitting around waiting to hear the news. If the story does not get picked up by a journalist, there could be various factors involved. They may not have seen the email, and they may not have had time to reply, and they are just not interested. If that is the case, companies should go back to the drawing board to figure out a different angle that would attract readers. However, to develop a mutually beneficial relationship between a company and media outlets, they need to be patient, committed, and humble.
4) Not preparing for follow-up and going mute
Once a journalist decides to pick up a story and write their content about a company, they will most likely reply with a confirmation or additional information. The worst thing is for companies not to be prepared for that situation. Getting the attention of media outlets is just the first step; from there, the real work begins, and companies should follow up in a timely and useful manner to make sure that they have retained a journalist’s attention. If not, they will move on and completely forget about the company.
Whatever outcome happens from sending out a pitch and press release, companies should always be prepared for different circumstances. Crisis management is a massive part of any PR campaign because it gives companies a chance to react and find a way to communicate any issues and update accordingly. By going silent, only gives rise to additional concerns and speculations. It may even cause the journalist to decide not to continue their story even after they initially said they would.
5) Forgetting about other methods of distribution
While journalists generally prefer beginning a relationship with a company through email, there are other valid and useful information methods. A lot of audiences also look towards social media and other channels to gain their knowledge. Using different, less conventional forms of communication can give companies a leg when trying to reach their target audience.
Press release mistakes and how to avoid them
Press releases are a presentation of facts about a company. They are an opportunity for brands, businesses, and organizations to reach their target audience through the media’s medium. It can be anything from product launches, new appointments, events, innovations, and award wins. Since a press release is “the first line of defense,” it is essential to use it to create a good impression, but sometimes there are some mistakes that companies make when trying to create an effective one.
1) Ineffective title
The title of a press release is the first thing that a journalist will see; it will draw them into the rest of the content. The title needs to be concise, enticing, and give a good overview of the story to get the needed attention.
2) Not providing enough information/Giving too much
A common mistake is companies assuming that journalists already know everything about them. Most likely, they have never heard about the company or know very little, so the press release must include all the necessary facts like where they are based, their company name, and the entire angle of the story. However, they need to ride the fine line between not enough and giving too much information. A journalist wants to get all the facts and not have to read through so much content that they don’t know what to write about.
3) Too much self-promotion
While a press release is technically about the company, it is more about whether the target audience will resonate with the message. A lot of it has to do with how a company, its products/services, and other news benefit them. While press releases are promotional, they are not advertisements. They should present facts without blatantly talking about a company.
4) Sole focus on driving traffic
While press releases are meant to drive traffic and create Search Engine Optimization (SEO), there is more to it than that. It is also about promoting transparency, growing brand awareness, and audience engagement. If the press release’s primary purpose is to build backlinks, it can be considered as not newsworthy enough.
On the other hand, not optimizing a press release format can also be mistake companies make. They can and should publish their press releases as content marketing on their owned media like their website, blog, or social media.
Press releases are an essential part of any PR and marketing campaign; done correctly, they can work wonders for companies to gain visibility and media attention. However, sometimes some mistakes can be made without a company even realizing it. By understanding these common mistakes, companies can figure out how to change and avoid them. It may seem simple enough, but sometimes it can be very time-consuming, which is why hiring external help can also be very beneficial. PR experts and writers are there for that purpose; they are there to use the company’s information to create content that will help them achieve media coverage and online visibility.