Five Public Relations Sins

Journalists on duty

The tried and true definition of public relations is creating buzz without bucks and that still holds mostly true today. As with every communications industry as of late, public relations has evolved and many clients provide hefty budgets for their public relations efforts and campaigns. What they expect in return is extraordinary results and not any major mishaps. To that end, below are five cardinal sins of public relations to help guide you in your quest to be the hottest PR person on the planet.

You’re a Journalist, Not a Marketer 

Publicists need to understand that a balance needs to be struck between journalism and marketing when disseminating information on behalf of their clients. You need to deliver the salient facts but you can present them with a subtle marketing spin making publications, websites and broadcast stations want to run your story. It’s a matter of learning to relate the important facts in order of importance while giving them an ever so slight marketing slant. 

Forgetting that all PR is Good PR 

Even if it's bad PR. While your first effort may have failed overall, some aspects may have succeeded and you may be able to capitalize on them for your second campaign. Bad PR may result in good PR; it's all how you spin it. PR is elusive and there's no exact way to be sure how prospects will respond. If you strike out, admit when you were wrong and then take the bull by the horns, take another tact and start again. 

Not Tracking Results 

You must be able to quantify your work. If you were a client writing a big check to your PR firm would you settle for anything less than measurable results presented to you in a clear and understandable way? As ROI (Return on Investment) is to print advertising and direct marketing, measurable results is to public relations. Social media can be measured in “Likes” and followers; a method for measuring public relations efforts must be established and utilized. Since the power of PR is so intense but its source often elusive, do you carve out a piece of the piece from all your other efforts or is there some way to firmly establish the results of buzz? One could say that all the other marketing communications genres benefit from a smart PR campaign. 

Forgetting It's Free

 Public relations can make a brand faster and cheaper and more firmly ensconced in the consumer’s mind than any of the other communications disciplines including brand advertising, direct marketing, and promotions. Consider the fact that public relations is unpaid for and focus your energies on getting your message out gratis. If it's not free, then your client is footing the bill and that's not PR. 

Waiting Until the Last Moment 

Many people in all kinds of businesses like to be the one to magically pull the rabbit out of their hat and save the day. This is irresponsible. While you may be comfortable with these last minute thrills, most of your colleagues and clients are not. PR is no longer Darren Stevens of Bewitched coming up with an amazing idea at the last minute with help from his magical wife, the witch. It’s a well thought out, well planned effort that deserves the proper amount of time to build momentum.

If you already work in PR, kudos to you. If you want to work in PR kudos to you as well and good luck. Both groups would be wise to head the warnings above.

Trish Little is an avid marketing blogger. If you're interested in a career in public relations, you may want to look into communication degrees, such as the one offered by University of Southern California.

Photo by: Yan Arief
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