Public Relations and marketing are dynamic, fast-paced and exciting industries, but all too often people dive in and don’t understand why they aren’t getting the results. PR should be easy, right? Journalists and media are just waiting for your email or call, right… Not so fast! Too often we see the same mistakes repeated, so let’s recognize them and adjust before they become lifelong bad habits. Here is a list of the three most frequent PR mistakes. Let’s review:

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Mistake #1 – Generalized Pitches

How would you feel if your grandparents sent you a card that said, “Dear Grandson/Granddaughter, please see the attached gift and below for generic statements of goodwill.”? You’d probably be a little off-put – the same thing goes for the media, we need to remember they are people too. What can you do to customize your pitch?

– Research. Take the time to research the journalist and their beat, then tailor your messaging to provide them with a foolproof story that they would actually cover.

– Target the right media. It is important to target the right person with your pitch but it is equally as important to make sure you’re targeting the right outlets.

– Make it easy. If you read a pitch and aren’t sure what the story is, then the journalist definitely won’t know either. Make the pitch easy and outline all the relevant information to get them started on the story.

Mistake #2 – NEW is News

I get it – we all work hard and want to share our accomplishments, but not everything is newsworthy and thus shouldn’t be treated as such. I’m not saying that all the information your client shares and wants to celebrate is irrelevant, but it’s up to us as PR professionals to advise our clients on what needs to go out as a top tier media release and what is better saved for the company website. By not providing our clients with proper recommendations, we run the risk of not only setting them up for disappointment but jeopardizing our relationships and reputation for good stories with the media.

Is this relevant to their audience? You need to ask yourself this before hitting send on that email. For example, Is it relevant that your product is now available in yellow? Or is it part of a larger story that sees an increase in yellow products? Not sure where to start? Take a look below for three things to consider:

– Is it Breaking News? If the answer is yes and it’s truly important then this needs to go out to news focused outlets.

– Is it Interesting News? If the answer is yes, then create a custom pitch and target the outlets that it is most relevant to, especially niche interests or trade.

– Is it relevant to your audience? If the answer is yes, but didn’t fit in the above two categories then this is better saved for your company communications, whether it be a blog, newsletter, or press room.

Mistake #3 – Media Relations

We all understand that relationships are about give and take – the same goes for the relationships you have with your media friends. While we all know the importance of following up, it is equally as important to respect their time and not flood their inboxes with daily “Wanting to bump this up to the top of your inbox” messages. When you build solid relations with the media, you should see your emails automatically get bumped to high priority in their inbox. You need to work hard at building that rapport, connecting, and finding out what is important to them and their audiences (see Mistake #2). Some journalists see upwards of 500 pitches a day, you want to build those relationships so yours is always one of the first ones they look at. So what can you do to help build these relationships?

– Treat them as humans. Learn their names, take a genuine interest in their lives, remember the small details.

– Connect when you’re not looking to land a story. Invite them for a coffee or happy hour, or send that email that is just saying “Hi”. They will learn quickly if they only hear from you when you’re looking for coverage.

– Offer your resources. Instead of always coming to the media with a pitch or a story, it’s ok to reach out and offer to help them with anything they are working on. Maybe they are doing a story on something that isn’t applicable to your client, but would be a good fit for another client in the agency. Offer to help them and they will remember you as a resource and they’ll keep coming back.


BONUS MISTAKE – Spelling and copy!

Read, reread, and reread again! This is so important when you’re writing emails, pitches, and press releases. Spend the extra time to perfect your copy because even the smallest error can undermine the message and your credibility!

In the pursuit of coverage and those highly sought-after impressions, you need to impress the journalists. By avoiding these common mistakes, you’re setting yourself (and your clients) up for success.