Tips from the Pros: 3 PR Mistakes to Avoid

Public RelationsCommissioning a public relations firm to run a marketing campaign isn’t cheap. But are those expensive agencies worth the pretty penny they charge in an age of atomized media consumption? The PR world is beset by startups that are using technology to keep up with the times—and slash prices for their clients. And those startups love to claim that traditional PR companies continue to run their campaigns as if only a handful of media outlets are important.

It made sense back then,”

Ryan Evans, president of BiteSize PR, told us of traditional techniques.

BiteSize sells a subscription-based marketing service matching media opportunities with small and mid-size businesses.

In the past, if a PR person cultivated relationships with the people at the handful of media companies, they’re gatekeepers. So you’d pay them big money and they’d take on select clients and then they’d pass those clients along to the journalists, and it all kind of made sense, because they were a filter and cut a lot of people out.”

Where are PR firms, or companies trying to emulate that traditional model, missing the boat?

Mistake #1: Viewing PR as different from social media

“They hire a PR person to do things the same way they’ve been doing for decades, blindly blasting out things and writing press releases,”

Points out Greg Galant, who heads up Muck Rack, a service helping businesses find journalists on Twitter. (Over 150,000 journalists or their parent media companies have signed up for the service, and members are notified when journalists link to stories relevant to their company or client). He went on:

They don’t realize that social media’s kind of revolutionizing the way that people do PR, in the sense that people should be building relationships with reporters and newspapers and magazines and TV shows, and that needs to be through social media—following them on Twitter, connecting on Facebook, etc.”

Although some PR firms are giving brands a social presence, combining these two positions could have a greater effect.

Mistake #2: Making announcements nobody cares about

While it can be tempting to send out a press release for every new event, product update or partnership, journalists often make it a habit to swiftly delete these briefs, seeing them as irrelevant and unnecessary. It’s hard to be heard in a noisy world, but the more compelling a company is, and the more stories you can pull out, the better.

BiteSize’s Evans added:

It’s important to think about your business in a more creative and interesting way, and to do interesting things. Just because a business is boring doesn’t mean they have to have a boring story.”

Helping journalists tell better stories through good sources and good information is key. He continued:

There will always be an opportunity for an exchange of ideas, as long as they make sense. The new form of PR, in my opinion, is more of a matchmaker rather than a gatekeeper”

According to Evans, who also works with SourceSleuth on matching expert sources to stories,

It’s finding the right companies and stories for the right outlets and just acting as a matchmaker. It’s not, ‘Hey, I know the right people, pay me big money and I’ll get you into something.”

Mistake #3: Failing to measure results

Although it’s harder to measure the effects of being quoted or mentioned in an article (compared to the very definable metrics of advertising), there’s never been a better time in history to analyze the effects of PR thanks to social media.

Muck Rack’s Galant told us,

“If you get mentioned or quoted in an article, up until about a couple years ago you had no way of knowing how many people read that article. Today you could use tools (Muck Rack has this tool called WhoSharedMyLink.com) and see: here’s this article I got quoted in, how many people shared it, who shared it, what were their sentiments about it, and using that kind of data and more general social media data. There’s more of an opportunity to measure one’s work than any time in history.”

Measuring the results of these PR hits or media coverage, using that as an opportunity to engage with people who share the article, and even spending money to further distribute those articles through various advertising platforms is the future of media- and the best way to maximize traction from those articles.

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About Yael Grauer

Yael Grauer is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and editor. Find her online at Yael Writes.

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