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Top Five PR Mistakes To Avoid

This is not about PR or reputation catastrophes, like the NFL’s fumbled  response to its domestic violence problem, or even Mike Tyson’s recent profanity-laced on-air meltdown. Maybe they don’t grab headlines, but the everyday PR misses are far more likely to result in underperforming campaigns or even the occasional publicity backfire. I’m talking about a sloppy tech PR launch, lost new product opportunities, or flawed PR planning.

Here’s my list.

Absence of strategy

It’s good to have clear goals and deliverables, like elevating the CEO’s reputation or boosting traffic to a commerce site. But in the absence of a real strategy for how to achieve those outcomes, much time and energy can be squandered, and PR can even end up fighting with other elements of marketing or communications. The strategy and the road map that flows from it should always be a first step.

The jargon-filled mission or message

PR pros, let’s unite and declare a war on jargon. It’s particularly common in technology PR, but confusing, insidery language is by no means limited to tech categories. And it’s easy to understand how certain terms become second nature. It’s insidious; after sitting through many Advertising Week presentations this week, words and acronyms like “RTB”, “native mobile”, and “programmatic premium” are actually rolling off my tongue. An “outsider” perspective is often needed for foundational message documents.

The late start

Getting practical, timing is also a huge factor when it comes to generating earned media. Whether procrastination, ambivalence, or ignorance, if I had a dollar for every prospect who has contacted us on the eve of a big announcement, I could probably retire. Lead time affords so many things – proper planning, message vetting, story research, and conversations with appropriate media. Sufficient time can even nudge a mediocre story into the winning column when other circumstances are right.

Uninspired writing

Ever read a press release boilerplate? It ranges from boring to incomprehensible. When something is drafted and edited by committee, it shows. All the color, life, and story is drained from the narrative, and the reader has to search for the news bits. A close second is empty, overhyped language replete with tired and meaningless descriptors like “unique” and “leading.”

Overreliance on press releases

It’s not just the news release contents,  it’s the way in which they’re used, or misused. More press releases simply doesn’t translate to more coverage. A release is more likely to be used if it has a well-written headline and a compelling lead, but at the end of the day it must contain some news. If there’s no news, it’s a waste of time and money.
There are many more ways to be sidetracked or thwarted in our business, so I’ll be adding to this list in a future post.

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