Many organizations make some basic public relations mistakes, which can dramatically affect their visibility and credibility.
Here are seven common errors, with advice on how to avoid them.
Having unrealistic expectations of PR
Too many people think that they will become famous overnight if they hire a PR firm. Or that publicity will automatically generate sales or raise their stock price.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t automatically work that way.
Marketers tell us that people go through at least four stages in deciding to buy a product or support a cause: awareness, interest, desire and action.
PR is most important in the first two stages, helping generate the awareness and interest that is essential for any action. However, PR becomes less influential the closer people get to taking action.
Understanding this basic concept is essential. PR is important, but it will not change things overnight, make up for a poor product or service, or sell your product or service by itself.
Ignoring the advice of PR counsel
In a great scene in the TV series West Wing, Jed Bartlet was going into a potentially volatile press conference. C.J. Cregg, his press secretary, advised him to call on a particular reporter first and, if at all possible, to avoid another reporter.
What did Bartlet do? He totally ignored Cregg’s sage advice and called on the “forbidden” reporter immediately.
Since it was a TV show, everything worked out fine. But this is not always the case.
Unfortunately, too many companies are like Bartlet and ignore the advice of their PR consultants. Like other professionals, good PR people have a particular way of looking at the world. They have developed skills and talents, have a radar for good stories and potential landmines, and can bring a great deal to the table.
Ask for, and respect, their opinions. You’ll be better off for it.
“Believing your news releases”
This is also called the “parental-fixation” syndrome, when you become so focused on your company, product or service that you forget a bigger world exists out there.
This syndrome manifests itself in assuming that everyone will be interested in your news, no matter how mundane. This fixation also shows up when you treat reporters as if their sole purpose is to tell your story.
In reality, most of the time the media will be only slightly (if at all) interested in your news.
However, reporters are often working on overview and trends articles, or are looking for an unusual twist, a human-interest angle or the “next big thing.” These reporters need people to give them ideas, provide information and explain the big picture.
Be that person, that resource, and you will reap the reward of ongoing coverage. Oh, and kill that news release about version 3.003 of your product.
There they are: three of seven common PR mistakes. I’ll cover the others in my next post.