Working in the field of public relations can truly be a scary venture. Particularly if you are new to the industry, attempting to do your PR all by yourself or hiring a new PR firm to take the reins on the project. The industry is full of potholes that if you tumble down you may leave a resonating bad taste with the media or potential new customers. Though some aberrations are much worse than others below is a list of PR no no’s that you most definitely want to steer clear of.
Fluff is Never Acceptable
When angling for PR it is ever important to be consistent and stick to the facts for reporters, editors and producers that you pitch. Adding random “fluff” to a press release is a sure fire way to ensure your that your results will be water downed and public relations campaign overlooked. When you are writing a press release, only add the important information. The 5w’s and standard and grossly important. What are the 5w’s? They are when you state who, what, where, why and how. Provide the media with the basic information. Your job is to make sure the news gets out there, not to create the news article. They decide what they like or don’t like. They create the piece with the fluff around it. Mind you your release should be engaging and sing and sell but leave words out like “Best in the world”, “dazzling”, or, “won’t find anywhere else”
That’s Not News!
One cardinal rule in Public relations is to never, ever, submit a press release that is not news worthy. When you get press release happy, you begin to lose credibility with the media. If they see that you are releasing three times a week about things that simply are not interesting to them then you have found a direct path to their spam folder. Think of it like “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”, it you keep leading then on to useless information, eventually no one is going to care about what you have to say! The media does not care about your March retail sale; however they will care if your March sale is to benefit the local Children’s Cancer Hospital. That’s a story, it’s an angle and it is something that the general public will also care about.
Research Those Media Contacts Thoroughly
Would you drive at night without your headlights on? I would think not. Would you hit a hot new hairdresser without looking at their website to see a few of the styles they have created for their current client base? No and no. The same should go for media and pitching. Never go into pitching ideas without doing the research on the media contact that you are pitching the idea too. You don’t send a sports pitch to a beauty editor, you will waste your time, you will waste theirs, you will look ignorant and you will get rejected! The worst thing that could happen is you could be blocked from emailing the editors that you really need to at that media outlet or you could be publicly called out via their social media or in an angry article. You don’t want those results. That’s not an effective PR campaign. Be mindful and knowledgeable and I promise that you will garner results.
Do Not Take It Personal- These Folks Are Busy
Never take it personal. When you are media calling to follow up on a pitch there are times when media contacts may come off as extremely hurried, mean, or downright nasty. In most cases it’s because they are on a tight deadline and don’t have time to eat lunch much less her your pitch. They need to get their stories in by 3 for goodness sakes. . Now don’t get me wrong, some of them are just naturally spawn of the devil mean, but many of them are on deadline. Either way you must keep smiling or move on to the next call with even more energy than you had in the last. Remember the old rule, you have to hear at least five no’s before you can hear one yes. Also always be polite. Media contacts will remember you. If they are hurried or rude send a polite email letting them know your pitch and politely ask them to take a look at it when they have some time. That rude editor may turn in to a contact banging down your door regularly for story comments.
Who, In Their Right Mind, Would Neglect A Media Lead?
Never neglect to follow-up on your pitches and calls. Keep track of who you have called, the story that you pitched and follow up. Did you receive a reply from a media contact? Don’t bucket list it and definitely don’t forget about it. The media once again have tight deadlines most of the time. If they have room for you in their story and you don’t respond they will move on to another source quickly to fill that gap.
Public Relations is truly a never ending journey of learning and pitching. Avoiding these 5 pitfalls will set you on the road to media placement success.