Sometimes, working in public relations, you hear things that are just so wrong they stay with you throughout your career. Those important lessons teach you what not to do, and how not to conduct PR.
Here is a list of the 10 worst things I’ve heard while working in public relations:
1. “I need you to send the journalists this email to introduce ourselves, so they add us to their Rolodex.” First, in a field that is evolving every day, I’m not sure “Rolodex” is an appropriate or current word. Second, a journalist won’t use us as contacts without a reliable experience, so an “intro email” simply won’t work.
2. “Just do it so we can tell the client we did it.” I almost fall out of my chair every single time I hear this. Every effort in PR should have a purpose, a target audience, and a well-crafted message. You can’t just do something to prove that you’ve been doing work for clients. Successful PR doesn’t work that way.
3. “It’s quantity over quality right now. Until clients start paying for quality, this is what they’re getting.” Shouldn’t you always do high-quality work? Clients invest their capital in your services, expecting results and excellent work. This is a lesson in client retention.
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4. “Let’s put more excitement in this news release.” In a news release? I think you’re thinking of a pitch, blog post, or announcement…
5. “There’s a resource where you can buy Twitter followers. It will make you look better on social media. I recommend using it.” Buying Twitter followers, or being a part of “Team Follow Back,” is a terrible business practice and defeats the purpose of social media. Reaching the right audience with the right content is a better strategy.
6. “Yeah, sure, looks good.” Any communication that we develop for PR is released to the public or to a specific target audience. It should be proofread, reviewed, and edited, not just skimmed. On that note…
7. “Can you edit this? But don’t nitpick!” If you’re not detail-oriented, PR is not for you. Everything we write, format, and create has to be thoroughly reviewed for grammar and spelling errors. Especially when working with the media, you lose your credibility with repeated mistakes, because they pick up on spelling, grammatical, or AP style errors in a heartbeat.
8. “We need to get a news release out.” Are you sure? Is your announcement worthy of a news release? Is a news release the right outlet? Can you announce it in a more suitable format? Think twice before relying on a release to share your story.
9. “Sorry, I was just handling crisis communication” …when they really weren’t. People who think they understand what PR is like to throw around a lot of jargon and then ask: “What’s a press kit? How come this post is doing better than the other post? Why do I need media training?”
10. “I like to hashtag all the way to 140 characters.” Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake already covered this topic. Three hashtags maximum, 120 characters in a tweet preferably. #Please #don’t #hashtag #your #audience #to #death.
OK, PR pros, let’s hear it. What other jaw-dropping things do you hear around the office? Please let us know in the comments.
Julia Sahin is a PR and corporate communications graduate student at NYU and a PR consultant. She plans on doing big things.