Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Ten Most Common PR Mistakes

By Alan Caruba

Who needs public relations? Just about everyone these days.

Public relations has ceased to be the domain of large corporations, trade associations, and government agencies. Today, everyone engaged in a business or profession needs to use public relations in order to stand out from their competition. All too frequently, however, this area of activity is either ignored or poorly executed.

If you want your PR to fail, follow these simple guidelines!

1. Don’t plan ahead. Never anticipate your "busy season" or a tie-in with a particular holiday or event that can benefit you. (Most magazines need at least five to six months advance notice Newspapers and radio-t.v. need far less time, but waiting until the last moment is a sure way to lose valuable PR opportunities).

2. Write a really bad, boring news release. Don’t put an interesting headline on it, make it very long, and neglect to put phone numbers where you can be reached.

3. If a reporter does call, don’t return their call immediately, but make them wait until the deadline for the story has passed. Be evasive and long-winded. If the real answer is "I don’t know," make something up!

4. By no means undertake an on-going public relations program, reaching out to the media in your area with, at a minimum, a monthly news release featuring useful information.

5. Don’t maintain an updated mailing list of local (regional and national media) outlets and, even more importantly, don’t keep a list of the newsroom fax numbers available.

6. If an event or issue occurs that relates to your business or profession, make no effort to fax a short news release or "Op Ed" to your media list. Your expertise should be kept a secret.

7. Never join any organizations, give any speeches or enter any competitions. Don’t donate any time or money to worthwhile community events. Never, under any circumstances, send a thank you note to anyone.

8. Don’t engage the services of a public relations counselor or agency to plan and execute a public relations program for you.

9. If you do engage PR professionals, never keep them informed on issues, opinions, and activities which they can turn to your advantage.

10. And never think long-term (see #1). Pay no attention to the way your reputation is enhanced by a steady flow of positive news about your activities.

PR is Not Advertising

When it comes to marketing communications, public relations is generally not as well understood as advertising. Simply put, with advertising, you buy space or time. You have something specific whether it’s a billboard or a radio commercial.

PR is far more subtle because it relies on securing media coverage that works to enhance the public’s recognition and confidence in your business or profession. It is rarely quantifiable.

When a company or individual receives "bad" publicity, they know it! When they are benefiting from "good" publicity, it’s just part of the on-going growth of the enterprise.

Good public relations, however, is a very hands-on activity which requires a good measure of planning and effort to work well. It involves an investment in a press clipping and media distribution service, along with a high level of postage, telephone and fax expenditures.

Public relations, to have any success, requires building recognition, first, with the media that serves your market area, and, after that, the provision of a sufficient flow of newsworthy information to generate coverage. News people value their news sources. When you become one, good things happen.

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