In a hyper-connected world, public relations or PR can be quite unforgiving.
Remember, a brand’s authority may take eons to build from the ground up. You may have published hundreds of quality blog posts or shared thousands of curated content on social media. But in the end, all it takes is one bad experience to lose the customer’s trust forever.
Don't worry; it can be worse. That particular customer can be an outspoken blogger that may write about how terrible you are as a company.
Before you know it, you could be all over people’s Facebook feeds. The word gets out, sales begin to drop, and you find yourself contemplating if your brand is still worth saving.
Okay, you’re probably not on the verge of such a disaster just yet. But when it comes to your brand’s reputation, you don’t take any chances. You need to be proactive in your PR strategy and cover any hole that can make you sink.
In this post, we’ll discuss the top 5 common PR mistakes that can put your brand on the chopping block. Let’s jump into it.
1. Mistaking PR for Advertising
Today, a surprising amount of businesses see PR as an opportunity to advertise.
Remember that if your objective is to raise brand awareness or promote products, you’re better off with actual advertising. Successful PR is all about authentic journalism that focuses on value and the truth. It doesn’t involve paid information channels that can twist and bend the facts just for profits.
Customers and bystanders may not notice this at the surface. But behind the scenes, bloggers and journalists are bombarded with requests from companies to review or promote their products.
The worst case scenario is that your prospective influencer will divulge everything about your plan. An unfortunate example of this is the case of KANOA and their attempt to pay off a famous YouTube creator.
You may be able to find smaller blogs and publications who are open to these gimmicks. Plenty of them is pooled in the affiliate marketing space, while others utilize sponsored posts as means of monetization. Either way, none of them can ever replace the value that true PR can bring to a brand.
2. Not Having a Newsworthy Story
A PR specialist’s job is not to openly communicate the positive aspects of a brand. Instead, their task is to turn qualities into newsworthy stories that cause a lasting impact.
Simply packaging your value propositions and unique selling points into a media kit isn't enough. If you want journalists to take an interest in your brand, you need to build a story that captures attention. Tell them about experiences that led to your brand's conception. Were you trying to solve a problem? How did you build your team? What were the obstacles you needed to overcome to get to this point?
Here are a few other questions that can help you cook up and pitch a hot PR story:
- How did a customer use your product or service to solve their problem?
- Will your product or service be extra useful for an upcoming holiday?
- Did you recently conduct a study regarding a relevant topic in your niche?
- Are there famous people using your products?
To cap off your pitch, make sure you use an eye-catching headline. A well-known strategy is to personalize it with the name of your target journalist or a specific location. It may seem unorthodox, but spicing things up with colorful language sometimes works as well.
3. Spamming Templates for Anyone
It’s no secret that journalists and big-name bloggers receive truckloads of emails on a daily basis. As a result, they can sniff out a template-based email from a mile away.
Don’t get us wrong — templates can be wonderful, time-saving tools. They can still work as long as you pour enough effort into personalizing each message.
Remember, if you're reaching out to high-profile journalists, they deserve to be treated more than rows on a spreadsheet. If you want to use templates, just borrow the bare structure and customize until 100% of the words are original.
Sounds overwhelming? You should pay close attention to who you’re sending your pitches to if you want more results. Make sure they’re genuinely interested and knowledgeable in your niche by looking at their previous works.
If you’ve been in business for a while, your brand may have been covered by them before. You just need to discover them and rekindle their interest with a well-constructed message. Research tools like BuzzSumo, SentiOne, and Google Alerts can point you in the right direction by looking for brand mentions.
4. Not Building Relationships
Another mistake that can bottleneck a company’s PR campaign is initiating the outreach early.
Truth be told, there’s only a slim chance that reputable journalists would accept pitches from total strangers. Even if you provide them with a great story, what’s stopping them from prioritizing pitches from brands they already know?
That’s why you need to put the relations back in PR. Invest in long-term relationships with these journalists or bloggers by expressing your interest in their brand. For example, you can leave comments on their posts, interact with their social media profiles, exchange casual emails, and more.
If you stay genuine, journalists, bloggers, and social influencers will be naturally drawn to your brand’s positive qualities. That’s when you can recognize when they’re ripe for that killer pitch.
5. Sending Pitches at the Wrong Time
Believe it or not, timing your pitch to journalists involve a lot of science. For example, sending on Fridays or Mondays would bury your pitch in a weekend's worth of emails.
Nobody likes work-related stuff on days off, which is why you should send your pitches from Tuesdays to Thursdays instead.
It’s also ideal to send emails early in the morning or late at night — not during the workday rush. According to statistics, 70% of Americans check their emails between 5AM and 9AM. 70% also perform an evening check past 6PM.
A PR campaign involves more than building a media kit and reaching out to as many people as possible. Hopefully, the mistakes above let you eliminate the guesswork and craft a strategy that maximizes results with less effort.