Public Relations is a job that can be made to look easy by the people who are good at it and almost impossible by the people who aren’t. For every slick, well-presented marketing campaign you can think of, we bet you can think of at least one very high-profile marketing or public relations disaster. Wealth and experience is no barrier to making a PR mistake – almost every firm has done it at some point or another, and nobody is safe. In the age of social media, where a Tweet or a post can be made quickly with not enough thought given to tone or interpretation, it’s arguably easier to make a mistake in the 2020s than it ever has been before.
The stink of a PR disaster hangs around for quite a while. Not only does it generate bad press at the time that it happens, but you can also be sure it’ll come back later for a second run when someone makes an end-of-year “biggest PR disasters” article for a website, like the one we just linked you to. The last thing anybody wants is to walk into such a mistake by accident, so let’s talk about some of the easiest mistakes you could make. The more you know about them, the less likely you are to make them.
Here are five very common PR mistakes, which we present in the hope that you’ll avoid them!
Connecting To Current Events
A good PR campaign is one that could be relevant no matter when it launched. Piggybacking off whatever’s in the news when you’re putting a campaign together is almost never a good idea. Today’s news is forgotten tomorrow, and if your campaign is still referencing it, it will look dated even before it’s a month old. That’s the last thing you want when you’ve invested significant amounts of money. Even well-intentioned campaigns can suffer this way. During the onset of the pandemic in 2020, Microsoft ran a pandemic-related advert for the Teams platform several times a day in the UK in the hope it would become the default choice for businesses that were working remotely. Instead, they succeeded only in driving the British public up the wall and putting people off the product.
Getting The Audience Wrong
Every message has a target. Every product and service is aimed at someone in particular or a group of “someones.” There’s almost nothing – save for food and water – that’s truly universal in its appeal. How does your planned PR statement or campaign connect with your audience? Whether we’re talking about a marketing campaign, a public statement, or an apology, there’s a group of people you specifically want to connect with. Your language ought to be tailored to those people. Don’t worry about becoming too specific and going over the heads of the people who aren’t within your target audience – they were never likely to buy into anything you had to say anyway. Generic messages will get generic results, and generic results are no good to anybody.
Missing The Product
There are so many things to think about when you’re trying to interest people in a product or service that sometimes you forget to mention the product or service itself. That sounds crazy, but it’s true. Think about the things you might mention if you were marketing an online slots website like Rose Slots CA, for example. You might start with the fact that it’s aimed at women, which makes it unusual within its industry. You might talk about all the various incentives and promotions that the website offers to online slots players. Maybe you’d make a feature out of the fact that it accepts payments via PayPal, which not all online slots website do. In doing so, you might forget to focus on the online slots themselves – and if you’re not talking about those, everything else you’re saying is wasted. Make sure your key feature is at the core of your messaging. If it isn’t, you’re wasting your time.
Persistence is the key to a good PR campaign. One single advert won’t result in a spike in sales. One little statement won’t change the public’s perception of a company or individual. Depending on what it is you’re trying to achieve, it might take you weeks. It could even take you months. If you’re dealing with a damaged brand or property, it might even take you years. There’s a pertinent example here from the world of video games. When the game “No Man’s Sky” was released in 2016, it was a broken mess. It was ridiculed and written off by every gaming publication in the world, and deservedly so. It’s now an award-winning multiplayer game that still receives regular new content and is played and appreciated by thousands of people every day. It took Hello Games, the company behind “No Man’s Sky,” years to rehabilitate the image of themselves and their creation. They got there in the end. Be prepared to stick around for the long haul and – more importantly – have a long-term plan.
Poor Relationship Management
So, you’ve written the most outstanding PR statement in human history. Every word has been carefully considered, and when the public gets to see it, their opinion of your client, product, service, or whatever else you’re trying to manage will be changed immediately. All you need now is for publications to pick up your statement and publish it. As you email or text it out to them, you include a direct phrase like “for immediate publication.” That’s a big mistake. You don’t get to decide who publishes what and when they do it. Even in the instant-hit high-tech communications of the 2020s, manners are essential. You don’t tell anybody to publish anything – you ask them to do it, and you thank them when they do. Cultivate relationships with the people you’ll be asking to carry your messaging, and you’ll benefit from them. You’re more likely to get sympathetic coverage when things are going badly, and the praise you get from them when things are going well will be more effusive. Don’t let yourself down by being dismissive with other industry professionals. If you are, the quality of your work won’t matter.