5 things PR should eliminate immediately

A short list of the obsolete, the annoying, the ‘gimme a break already.’

Now that the AVE is going away, what else can we put on the endangered-species list?

Here are my suggestions:

1. Media lists

Not that they weren’t useful back when you hired someone to smile and dial and do nothing but “pitch” stories all day long. But in today’s media-rich but topically niche environment, media lists are essentially spam enablers. All you have to do is read the Bad Pitch Blog to get an idea of how damaging these lists can be to your brand.

2. Impressions (a.k.a. opportunities to see, a.k.a. reach, a.k.a. circulation figures)

Just think about it: What really constitutes “circulation” these days, and how much of it can you really count? If I pass along via e-mail an intriguing story, no one knows whether I’m sending it to one person or 100. If you post a link on Twitter, sure, you can track how many people have had the opportunity to see it by looking at the number of followers and all of their followers, etc. But honestly, how many of your followers really respond to anything you put out there? I figure it’s only 10 or 20 out of the 330,000 people I allegedly “reach” according to most influence analyzers.

3. Direct mail

Please take this away sooner rather than later. It kills me to see a forest of dead trees in my mailbox that I have to take to recycling every week. Why does this continue? Has anyone noticed that the cost is going up and the effectiveness is going down? Are direct-mail marketers so insulated from reality?

4. Press releases as a tool to reach the press

Now I’m not saying that a press release isn’t a great vehicle for putting your messages and ideas and facts in one place. But it has no impact on the press. If you want to reach the media these days, you send them a link on Twitter or Facebook. And it had better be something more interesting than a press release. So let’s drop that title altogether and call it what it is: the official organizational statement that most people will ignore.

5. Advertising inserts

In my book, these are just the uglier first cousins to direct mail, but again, is anyone measuring their impact on a business? Are they really cost-effective, or is someone not looking at the right numbers? I love this shot of the kiosk for the local paper at the end of each day. All the ad inserts are right there at the bottom, left behind because no one wants to read them.

Those are my top five; what are yours?
Katie Delahaye Paine is CEO of KDPaine & Partners, and publisher of The Measurement Standard newsletter, in which this article first appeared.

Topics: PR

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