public relations mistakes

We all make mistakes. Some mistakes are more egregious than others. Most errors endemic to PR can be avoided pretty easily.

These are the top PR shortfalls to shun. These mistakes can cause journalists to quickly delete your story pitch and become reluctant to respond to your future emails. They can place your company in controversy, decrease management’s confidence in PR, and endanger your career.

Robo-pitching. Even if written in personable style, mass emails to large numbers of reporters on an editorial list demonstrate that the sender is unfamiliar with the publication. It’s clear that the sender has not bothered to visit the publication’s website. “There’s no hook, no story, but simply a nervy request: ‘Can I please schedule an interview with our CEO?’ or ‘Will you please feature our CEO in one of your upcoming posts?’” frets Forbes contributor Cheryl Conner.

Too many follow ups. Multiple follow-ups is sure to irritate a journalist, writes Forbes contributor Seth Porges. Crowding their inbox will hurt your chances for your current pitch in addition to future pitches. Send a reminder email several days after the pitch, and if there’s still no response, let it be. If a writer doesn’t respond to a story idea, it means it’s not the right time or topic for the publication.

Pitching past deadline. It’s crucial for PR to understand lead times and deadlines of publications. Writers for monthly and weekly publications don’t want to cover a product that will be old news when their issue hits the stands. Porges suggests giving advance scoops to publications with long lead times, or scheduling a product launch so it matches the publication dates of news outlets.

UFOs (unintentionally funny occurrences). This category covers a range of unintentional mistakes caused by lack of thinking it through. A Krispy Kreme licensee decided to launch the “Krispy Kreme Klub” (KKK), Connor notes.

Ethical stumbles. These include lying to or misleading the press and releasing confidential information. The category can include adding journalists to marketing lists in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act.

Failing to check press releases and other communications before sending them. That shortfall results in misspelled names, spelling and grammatical errors, and erroneous facts. Pitches or news releases containing errors face quick rejection, regardless of content.

Not planning for crises. Preparation is probably the most important part of responding to PR crises. Although planning for unexpected events is difficult, there’s no good reason why organizations cannot plan for common crises, such as disaster recovery, security threats, and problems that are typical in their industries (such as oil spill or electrical outage).

Not establishing goals – or setting general, amorphous goals. Identifying objectives and key performance indicators, such as revenue, awareness, leads, links or website traffic, is essential for measuring the success of PR campaigns. “Before anything else, think hard about what you wish your PR campaign to achieve, and put down key performance indicators in writing so you can share it with your communications team,” urges marketing consultant Jennifer Hakim.

Lack of monitoring and measurement. Measuring PR activities related to both news outlets and social media is imperative to prove PR’s value and to determine successful strategies. Comprehensive media monitoring and measurement is an essential component of managing your online reputation and tracking key influencers, such as mainstream journalists and leading bloggers in your niche. With advanced PR measurement tools now available that offer customizable dashboards and the ability to integrate myriad data streams, PR can more easily perform in-depth analysis.

Bottom Line: Avoiding these serious yet surprisingly common PR mistakes will improve your effectiveness. You can increase the likelihood that your press releases will be published, better protect your brand’s reputation and prove PR’s value to executive leadership by shunning these errors.

This article was originally published on the CyberAlert blog.