The goal of public relations is to portray your business in the best possible manner. This can range from establishing yourself in the market to doing damage control. Unlike advertising, your goal is not to pay for space in the media but to persuade the media to take an interest in what your business is all about and to take action by writing or reporting on your business activities. Below are some of the common pitfalls to watch out for when handling public relations.
- Poor timing. Timing is very important and too often the individuals handling public relations do not get a head start on their tasks. You need to consider lead time for magazines, newspapers, and other media.
- Poor choice of language. Jargon and buzzwords do not impress editors who have little time to read all the press releases that flow across their desks. Get to the point in plain and simple language.
- Poorly written press releases. Errors, omissions, poorly worded sentences, lengthy copy, and poor structure are all pitfalls that land press releases in the trash or have recipients hitting delete from the preview screen. You need to grab the reader, get to the point quickly, and follow up with information about the event or activity Keep it concise and include all pertinent details.
- Poor follow-up. If you are trying to reach out and be heard, be prepared when someone calls with follow-up questions. Many businesses lose stories because they are not prepared to close the deal.
- Too much hype. You want to be positive, but superlatives get tedious and can arouse suspicion in readers.
- Press releases for the sake of it. Like the boy who cried wolf, if you send out press releases every time there is some minor development in your business, when something really important occurs, editors will already be in the habit of hitting delete. Do not try to make stories where they do not exist. Some publicists actually do this to look busy and justify their billing.
- Read the newspapers. Too many people try to do public relations in a vacuum. Reading the papers keeps you abreast of what is going on in the world. This benefits you in two ways. First, you can use local and even world events as tie-ins to your news. And second, you can avoid poorly timed media releases.
- No plan. You cannot do public relations by winging it. It is hard to know what to do next if you have no plan of action. You need to determine where, when, and how you are going to proceed. You also need to be flexible and have backup plans should all else fail.
- Not getting the right help. Many businesses spend way too much money on high priced PR agencies that they do not need. Conversely, other companies try to do everything themselves. It’s important to find a happy medium.
- Not thinking outside the box. A lot of businesses stick with the same newspaper and radio plugs. There are many other means of reaching out and generating attention. In fact, some publicists are now using pitch letters to suggest stories, rather than sending the overused press and media releases.
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