Round robins and ruined reputations – avoid those PR pitfalls

Our PR Liaison Emma Pugh explains what to look out for:

When it comes to building your business profile and creating a positive image, PR is invaluable. But it’s about more than just sending out a press release and hoping for the best.

It takes time to establish a reputation and you should view pr as an essential part of an overall strategy to complement marketing, social media and advertising. Plan ahead, think about the messages you want to get across and the goals you hope to achieve and keep up to date with industry news.

Having worked as both a journalist and PR professional, I’ve seen how things operate from both sides and have learned some ‘Dos and Don’ts’; some may seem like common sense but it’s surprising how frequently they get overlooked.

avoid pr pitfalls | Market Avenue Limited

Do your research. Think about your target audience and familiarise yourself with your chosen media so you can tailor any pr accordingly.

Don’t send out a ‘round robin’ email. There’s no personal element there and you risk getting deleted. Even if you have a large distribution list, it’s worth putting in the time to make each message personal.

Do think about your introduction when writing a press release. You want to sum up your story in the first paragraph – if it’s ‘hidden’ further down the copy, chances are the journalist will have stopped reading before then. Keep things simple and avoid technical language unless you’re dealing with trade press.

Don’t try to sneak an advertorial through. A journalist will see straight through you and will be unlikely to open emails from you in the future. You’d be surprised how many commercial features are sent through marked as news releases and it doesn’t fool anyone. If that’s what you’re looking for, be willing to pay for advertising space.

Do take time to build up relationships with the media. Establish contacts, find out what they’re looking for and be useful to them. If there’s something topical in the news, you could help give them expert insight. Relationships need to be two-way.

Don’t send attachments or photographs. Journalists receive several emails a day and don’t want their inboxes clogged up. If you have a good image or supporting documentation, state that it is available on request.

Do proof-read. And proof-read again. Typos make you look unprofessional and rushed statements can contain errors which cause you problems.

Don’t say ‘no comment’ if there is a crisis situation which becomes a story (unless it is a legal issue). It looks as if you have something to hide. Being authentic and up front can often win you respect and you should take the opportunity to put your side across whenever you can.

Dealing with the media is a core element of pr but remember, you and your team represent your company, and ensuring staff are aware of key messages and feel positive about their work is also a vital element of public relations. There have been too many cases of disgruntled employees thoughtlessly airing grievances on social media, which have damaged both their and their company’s reputation.

There’s a lot to say about pr, and I could go on and on but I’ll cover different issues in future blogs. I’ll leave you with a final note of caution:

Don’t ever be complacent. One great story hasn’t secured your reputation for good. And one bad comment can destroy it. Gerald Ratner, anyone…..?


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