How-To

Public Relations: Top 10 Mistakes

The whole idea behind public relations is to make you look good. Public relations experts’ main concern is how the public sees your business, and it is their job to make them see you in the best way possible. Public relations takes care of anything and everything, from promoting you within your market or even doing damage control. This is different from advertising. Public relations do not buy space in the media, however their job is to make the media come to you; to have an interest in you and your company. However, your name and your business aren’t going to be impressing anyone or going anywhere in the media if your public relations department make mistakes such as these:

1. Badly written press releases.

You need to get the readers’ attention with the first couple of words, get to the point, and then follow-up on the information for the activity/event as soon as possible. Keep it short and sweet. One of the ways to get your press release in the trash before it is even fully read is to have spelling mistakes, poor grammar, omissions, poorly worded sentences, too much copy, and overall bad structure. Avoid this.

2. Inappropriate choice of language.

Editors and other members of the press have little time to read releases as it is; they certainly don’t have the time to figure out what your press release is trying to say with the use of jargon, buzzwords, and shorthand writing. Use plain and simple English, and try not to use fancy words that the editors may not know. The point of a press release is not to make the reader search for a dictionary.

3. Sending out press releases just because you can.

One way of getting editors in the habit of pressing delete on your press release is by sending a release out every time some unimportant, miniscule event happens. Then, when something actually quite important comes about, editors will hit delete thinking it was something not note worthy. Don’t try and make hype out of something when it isn’t there.

4. Too much exposure.

Too much hype can actually have a negative impact on what you are trying to say. It can sometimes make readers feel suspicious, as if you are trying to make up for something or make it sound better than it really is. Don’t be over zealous.

5. Not keeping up with events.

One way to keep on track with what’s going on in the industry is to read publications, such as magazines and newspapers. You can’t do public relations in a vacuum. By reading the necessary publications, you can keep up-to-date and in the “know” of things around you.

6. Poor or no follow-up.

When sending out press releases, expect to get phone calls and follow-up questions. If you receive messages, call them back! Many businesses miss their opportunities for press because they can’t close a story because no follow-up was initiated.

7. Bad timing. Timing is everything.

Remember that there is a substantial lead time for magazines, newspapers, and other publications and media. Public relations should be ahead and ready to go when the time comes.

8. Lack of plan.

As with most things, a well laid out plan is essential. Public relations do not work just by winging it. Public relations is a fast-paced industry and thinking of what to do next on a whim will not work and will actually cost business. The whole “who, what, where, when, why, how” questions are what need to be answered for each project. And have a contingency, or back-up plan in case what you have laid out doesn’t work. It is better to be prepared than not to be.

9. Not getting good help.

Find a good medium. Unfortunately, many businesses spend too much money on high priced PR agencies that aren’t necessary, while other businesses try to do everything themselves. Find something that meets your needs and if looking for a PR agency, comparison shop.

10. Short sided; small minded.

Although your business may be comfortable with where you are in newspapers and other local media, it doesn’t hurt to stretch a little. There are more means of getting the word out about your company. Don’t think that what you have is all that you can do…that is a mistake. Make suggestions to different publications instead of sending full out press releases. It doesn’t hurt to suggest something, and it can prove to be quite effective.