How to avoid these eight common public relations pitfalls.
By Ann Noder,
CEO of Pitch Public Relations
You have a great business. Your company is poised and ready to deliver. But your message falls flat! If you’re not getting the kind of media exposure you think you should, perhaps it’s time to take a closer look at your strategy. Switch gears and analyze the situation through the eyes of the media to gain perspective on what is really going to get their attention. Here are eight common blunders you could be making that are preventing your company from taking the media spotlight it deserves:
1. The Boy Who Cried Wolf: If you create and distribute a press release for every happening at your company, it all becomes noise to the media. Press releases should be reserved for true announcements of value and major milestones of interest. Instead, try engaging a specific reporter, producer or editor with your story idea using a more informal pitch. Can you summarize what’s newsworthy about your business in just a few short sentences? That’s all you have to grab a reporter’s attention.
2. One Size Fits All: Not every media outlet is the same and they won’t all respond to the identical angle. A business publication is more likely to be interested in your entrepreneurial story or annual growth. A features reporter is more likely to respond to the merits of the product or service. Television outlets want visual elements. You have to play up different aspects of your business depending on the target. Do your research on the person you’re pitching. The more you can tailor your message right to the sweet spot, the better chances for coverage.
3. No Rush: If your story doesn’t have a timely element to it, it’s not really news. By attaching a well-timed angle to the pitch, you increase your chances for coverage. Is it more appropriate now because of the season? Does it relate to a trend or another news story? Is there an urgency to the information? By making the story more relevant, you not only engage the reporter but make it more likely that they’ll jump on it sooner rather than file it away for later. Take a moment to ponder this question: What about my business is newsworthy right now as opposed to six months from now?
4. Just Wait: Don’t keep a reporter waiting. If they want a photo, get it for them. If they request an interview, make yourself available. Broadcast outlets and newspaper reporters are often on tight deadlines. They need the elements of the story in place, or it won’t run. If they can’t get it in time, they’ll move on to something else. If you really want great media coverage, you have to be willing to drop other things to make it happen when the opportunity arises.
5. Buy an Ad: With PR, you’re dealing with editorial coverage. That means the content of the copy is up to the reporter. Sure, you can help manage the message and direct them to a specific angle. But the story wording and perspective is ultimately up to them. That’s why PR is so valuable. If you want them to use your exact language, buy an ad. Making a press release or story pitch too commercial will automatically turn off the media you’re trying to capture.
6. You’re Too Insignificant: Don’t underestimate the value of any and all good press. I’ve seen an article in a small community newspaper get picked up by a national syndicate. A local news story can lead to national product distribution. Blogger write-ups can spread like wildfire in social media. National exposure is great. But remember, turning your nose up at a seemingly minor story possibility could mean losing a fabulous PR opportunity.
7. That’s It: Your PR opportunity isn’t over when the story runs. You need to leverage it. For manufacturers of products, that means showcasing the coverage on your site and sharing the exposure with potential retail buyers and stores. Bring the feature to trade shows or investor meetings. You can and should blog, tweet and post it on Facebook. Make the media coverage meaningful!
8. I’m a Start-Up: Even if you’re just getting started with your business, don’t give the media the impression you’re too Mom-and-Pop. An unpolished website will force magazine editors to take a pass on coverage. If your product sample arrives to a reporter without proper packaging or accompanying information, they won’t take you seriously. Photos need to be sharp and high resolution.
Every business has a story to tell. Finding the right angle and media targets, combined with avoiding these pitfalls, will prime your business for exposure that can have a lasting and positive effect on your company’s revenue and reputation.
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