All businesses today realize the value of good PR. Especially for a small business, PR (public relations) goes a long way towards establishing credibility, raising awareness of products and services and ultimately increasing sales. But as with anything in life, there is a right and wrong way to go about getting PR. Here are five mistakes that can easily derail your PR efforts:
1) Under Pressure: Reporters follow a different schedule than most of the workforce. 9-to-5 hours? Forget about it. Those in the media have 24/7 jobs with very tight deadlines. Not only knowing this, but respecting it, can go a long way towards making the difference between PR success and failure. Here’s the rule of thumb: Early mornings are for story planning. Late mornings are for gathering facts and quotes for the story. Early afternoons are for writing the story or putting it all together. So when’s the best time to send a press release or call a reporter? Send your release earlier in the week to avoid the weekend news cycle. And when you call a reporter to pitch a story, try for mornings or early afternoons so that you get to them well before late afternoon when they’re rushing to meet their deadline.
2) Just The Facts: A well-written press release or pitch letter goes without saying. But compelling and accurate facts are critical to the success of your written PR communications. Here’s the problem with inaccurate facts in your press release: It doesn’t just make you look bad. If published, those inaccuracies make the reporter look bad as well. If you are unlucky enough to make a reporter look bad, it’s a sure way to ruin your chances of getting another story with that reporter or one of their colleagues.
3) Making Time: Ok so you’ve been able to send out a press release and you’ve now got one or two reporters that want to set up a time to do a story. But here’s the rub, you apparently have more important things to tend to and have made a habit of re-scheduling with the reporter. Guess what, that reporter will not hesitate to make plans with someone else for a different story. Simply put, if a reporter calls to set up an interview, DO IT. They are not on your schedule. You are on theirs. Move your schedule around to accommodate them. It’s as simple as that.
4) Expectations: PR is not advertising. If you think a news reporter is planning on doing a story that will only be about you, not include your competition and spend the entire time talking about how great you are, you will be disappointed. Reporters have a job to do and that is to report the news and deliver stories that are of interest to their readers. Their job is not to put money in your pocket. Understand that there is a lot of give and take when dealing with the media. They are providing you with publicity that you did not have to pay for. But you also don’t have any control as to how they write their story. It is your job to provide them with good and compelling information to help shape the story in a positive light for you.
5) PR Doesn’t Just Happen: PR is more than just sending out a press release. You need to take the time to develop relationships with reporters and discuss interesting story angles with them so that they are compelled to write about you. Reporters receive hundreds of press releases from people like you each day. Yours is just one of the many sitting on their desk. Go beyond simply sending them the press release so that you stand out from the crowd. It’s not unlike making a sale. But instead of selling a product or widget, you’re selling a story.
Editor’s note: John Sternal is co-founder of http://understandingmarketing.com and author of the PR Toolkit for Small Business, a resource to help small business owners do their own PR for media exposure.