Despite the fact that PR is the essential pillar of company growth and widespread success, it remains a little-understood and often misused aspect of running a business. Much too often, attempts to save money or time on PR lead to ineffective – and sometimes downright damaging – approaches.
1. Lack of focus
Haphazardly throwing out content in hopes at least some of it will stick is a waste of time and resources. Efficient, successful PR starts with a solid strategy and a unified front.
All too many businesses don’t take PR seriously enough, remembering about it only during an important milestone or when something goes wrong, and the company’s reputation needs fixing. Instead, it’s important to approach PR with a strategic mindset, setting achievable and measurable goals, implementing them and adapting as necessary, and evaluating the results at regular intervals.
Equally important is the attention and focus given to branding. Every company needs to have a media presence that’s consistent across the board. A solid message and set of company ethics, complete with keywords and vocabulary to be associated with the brand, are marks of professionalism and authority. Similarly, visual branding should be consistent across all platforms, with instructions contained within brand guidelines available to all relevant staff.
2. No analytics
Another major PR mistake is the next step in the planning process: result measurement. Even when businesses and influencers get the planning part right, they often miss the trick where it comes to analysing the results of the campaign.
This is why it’s important for PR goals to be measurable in themselves, and for measuring tools and strategies to be put into place at the start of the campaign. Once the time, energy, and money has been put into creating a PR strategy and implementing it, the results need to be measured in order to determine how successful the campaign was.
Regular analytics can be an indicator of when a change of direction is needed, meaning the PR strategy will be all the more efficient. They will also provide insights that will be helpful to future campaigns, such as how well a particular platform or approach works with different demographics and for different purposes.
3. No media contacts
We all think that our businesses are important and innovative, but that’s not always the case from other people’s point of view (especially if we don’t effectively market the brand as such). For this reason, many companies rely on cold pitching to get mentions and features in the media – a “strategy” that, unfortunately, rarely works.
For efficient and reliable PR, it’s crucial for the company to have tried-and-tested media contacts in appropriate outlets. For instance, a relationship with a columnist for a local paper or the editor of a website in the right niche can streamline the process of obtaining media features. These relationships are also beneficial because the person will become familiar with the brand, making the process even more efficient.
Building appropriate connections can be a challenging and time-consuming process, which is why many companies opt for working with a PR agency. Essentially, by hiring PR experts, you’re obtaining access to the agency’s contacts in the media – something that would otherwise take years to achieve.
4. Press release overload
This may appear counter-intuitive, but too many press releases are not a good move where PR is concerned. While it might seem that the more often the brand appears in media, the better, a focus on quantity rather than quality is the better route.
By sending out a press release to all available outlets every time something minor happens, you will cause your brand to become a nuisance – both to editors and to readers. Furthermore, if you publish a press release about every small development, you create a sense of lack of serious achievement.
Instead, best practice dictates sharing press releases only when something truly exciting happens. This way, all of your press releases are interesting, relevant, and worth the readers’ attention.
5. Embarrassing social media posts
Neglecting to establish rules of external communication – including social media – or tasking inappropriate personnel with managing the branded accounts is a disaster waiting to happen.
One Tweet or Facebook post that is offensive (even unintentionally) can destroy a brand’s reputation. Of course, part of the magic of expert PR is that in the vast majority of cases, a damaged reputation can be salvaged with enough time and concentrated effort. However, it’s much easier to avoid making social media mistakes in the first place than to manage the fallout when something goes wrong.
To this end, it’s important to ensure social media communication is on-brand, relevant, appropriate, and closely monitored. Social media posts should be used to the company’s advantage, in a way that highlights the message and maintains a unique voice. Correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation are just as crucial to projecting a fully professional image.