Some public relations professionals are stuck in the PR equivalent of the original “Psycho” shower scene. It can be terrifying to watch.
If you want to improve your results, heed this advice to avoid horrific PR practices:
1. Don’t blast out a press release and expect top tier media coverage.
There are few things more frightening than the “spray and pray” approach to coverage. Strategic PR folks shouldn’t send mass press releases to lists of reporters without identifying their target audience. To avoid this ghastly PR faux pas, always work from a well-planned media relations pitching strategy based on relationships and reporters’ beats and specialties.
2. Don’t fax anything to anyone.
This may be a reoccurring nightmare for some people in the industry. It’s 2015. Please do not send anything via fax. The communications world is now Web-based. If you aren’t already aware of this, you have a scary future.
3. Don’t believe your voicemail is so good that a reporter will call you back.
Journalists are busy and rarely have time to return routine calls, especially from people they don’t know or trust. No matter how important you think your story is, a journalist will probably disagree. Don’t sit around waiting for your phone to ring, because it probably won’t. Find another way to follow up with the reporter.
4. Don’t promise your boss that The Wall Street Journal will cover your story.
Is Freddy Krueger chasing you? No? Then why would you promise such a thing? No matter how amazing you are, never guarantee high-profile placements until they are secured. Even if your coverage seems like a done deal, breaking news can change everything. Choose a safer way to handle this situation. Set your sights on a top-tier media placement, and execute strategic steps to meet your goal. Keep your boss informed of your progress, and have a backup plan.
5. Don’t pitch content that’s not newsworthy.
This is simply terrifying. When working with decision-makers, communicators must walk a fine line between being a brand advocate and a provider of high-quality content. PR professionals sometimes fall off the wagon and become brand bludgeons. To avoid this, match your content to the news organization and its audience’s primary demographic.
6. Don’t disrespect a journalist’s time or insight.
Some phrases that PR pros say to reporters are cringe-worthy. To avoid a scary reaction, avoid these phrases:
“Did you get my press release?”
“What type of articles do you run?”
“This is a perfect fit for you.”
Lisa Arledge Powell is president of MediaSource, a public relations firm that specializes in brand journalism. MediaSource has been named Best Health Care Agency in 2013, 2014 and 2015 in Ragan’s Health Care PR & Marketing Awards. Connect on Twitter: @LisaArledge.
This article was created in partnership with MediaSource.