We spend a lot of time talking to PR professionals as well as to business leaders and journalists. Doing so gives us interesting insight into how PR is being practiced and evaluated. We’ve seen many well executed and effective campaigns. We’ve also seen PR teams struggle to have an impact. If your PR efforts aren’t producing the desired results in terms of both coverage and executive support, it may be due to one or more of these common bad habits.
Playing it Safe
We’ve noticed that young PR professionals, in particular, are terrified of making a mistake. Caution with your brand’s image is a good thing, but the only way to avoid mistakes altogether is to do nothing. Calculated risks are necessary in the PR game, so you are going to have to stray off the safe side from time to time.
Always Swinging for the Fences
Everybody wants to have a mention on the front page of the Wall Street Journal or get the CEO on CNN. However, if you focus only on the huge wins, you might be missing opportunities that can be just as valuable and far more likely to happen. Think about niche publications that are read by your specific audience. Don’t ignore local or regional press. Publications with huge audiences are appealing, but smaller, more focused ones are more likely to include your buyers.
Ignoring the Numbers
PR is increasingly being driven by analytics. Business leaders want to understand what they are getting for their investment in PR. This means the PR professionals must be able to communicate both activities and results in a way that demonstrates PR ROI. You need defined key performance indicators and a way to track your impact on the metrics that matter to the business, such as website traffic, leads, conversations and revenue.
It is imperative that PR professionals develop healthy relationships with their media contacts. This means more than just pitching a story to a database of email addresses. It means understanding the topics of interest to each individual journalist and limiting your pitches to subjects that matter to them. It means interacting with them when you don’t have something to pitch by engaging on social media or (gasp) even in person.
Missing the Forest for the Trees
Media monitoring is often focused on brand mentions. It is good to identify and analyze all of the mentions of your brand, but don’t be myopic. You also want to understand larger trends that impact your brand’s industry, your buyer’s role, and business as a whole. The most effective pitches are tied to a broader story, so you need to understand what’s happening across the board.
Communicating your efforts and results to business leadership is absolutely necessary, manually creating reports is not. Your PR software should provide beautifully designed, interactive reports that include impact and activity analysis. Your time should be spent on strategy and execution, not manipulating spreadsheets and slides.
If you recognize any of these bad habits, don’t fret. You are not alone, but do take the opportunity to let go of ineffective behaviors and embrace positive change.