The Top 15 PR Mistakes Made by Small and Big Businesses

1.      No Strategy

The best way to waste time trying to get PR for your company is to start without a plan.  Without one, your efforts will be at best, inefficient and at worst, ineffective. Take the time to define your PR objectives, which will inform your strategy. Then create a plan that takes into account channels, timelines, budget, and how you will measure your results.

2.      Poor Strategy

You’ve got a great strategy for your company’s PR – only problem is, it’s your only one.  Publicity alone does not a business make, and a PR plan does not replace your marketing, advertising or sales strategies.  The great thing about public relations is that it works in tandem with your other marketing and sales efforts, provided the strategies are incorporated.  Failure to integrate your marketing, sales and PR plans means missed opportunities to leverage the results of each.

3.      No Corporate PR Policy

Large or small, all companies should have a corporate public relations policy that governs how employees and stakeholders should engage with the public.  Many corporate PR policies will outline PR objectives, who can speak with the media, what topics should be avoided or are confidential, content guidelines, and rules of engagement.  A good PR policy will ensure consistent company messaging, as well as help avoid costly PR mistakes.

4.      Mass Press Releases

If you’re making or emailing mass press releases, you aren’t doing it right (unless you’re really that big of a deal).  Save yourself that precious time and only write a press release when there is something truly eventful or newsworthy happening with your company.  When you do write a press release, refrain from sending it to your entire email list.  Instead, send it to select media outlets that cover your industry or to journalists with whom you have a relationship — and always preface it with a personal message, not a loud, impersonal press release headline.

5.      Forgetting Your Audience

In the rat race to get publicity, it’s easy to scramble for any and every press mention or get starry-eyed for the big press behemoths.  But none of that will matter if it doesn’t reach your target audience.  Focus on quality of audience, not quantity, and reserve your time for getting the type of press that matters.

6.      Overlooking Your Customers

Word-of-mouth marketing may seem like a quaint idea these days, but in fact it’s one of your biggest allies.  Social recommendations remain the most powerful kind, whether they happen in person or online.  And personal recommendations (made by friends, family, colleagues) are the holy grail.  So whether it’s a call, yelp, text, or tweet — if you’re not encouraging your customers to spread the love to their network, you’re missing a crucial opportunity to leverage this overlooked PR powerhouse.

7.      Overlooking Blogs and Smaller News Outlets

In an era where blogs have edged out broadcast and print countless times, lots of businesses still overlook the blogosphere as a legitimate form of press.  But that’s the old way of thinking. You’re in this PR game for a reason, in large part because getting media publicity carries more authority.  You can advertise your heart out, but it won’t have quite the same effect as being mentioned by a trusted news source.  And there are no more trusted news sources than bloggers who cover a particular area and have a devoted following.  Provided the blog is solid and geared toward your audience, it’s probably going to carry much more weight than your tiny mention in The New York Times.

8.      Failure to monitor, measure or optimize your campaign

As with any marketing campaign, there is a trial and error process, and successful campaigns require careful monitoring and optimization.  Failure to measure results will make it virtually impossible to know how to optimize your PR campaign, not to mention whether or how you’re meeting your objectives.

9.      Not understanding how your company is relevant

This can be a tricky one for even the most seasoned business owners, but knowing how your business is relevant to the media is absolutely essential to getting publicity.  Simply having a business, service, or product is not a reason to give you press.  Your background, industry expertise or personal story, however, might be.  Understand the core value that you can offer to a journalist’s audience, and always customize that value to what the journalist is writing about.  That may take the form of human interest, business experience, or expert advice.

10.   Not keeping up with the news

Press opportunities wax and wane with the seasons, or more accurately, the news cycle.  Current events can present excellent press opportunities for which you or your company is a relevant source.  But if you’re not keeping up with the news, these opportunities will go unnoticed.

11.   Not Monitoring What’s Being Said About Your Company

Reputation management has become even more paramount in the era of social media where customers have so many opportunities to rate, review and comment on your business.  Ignoring this crucial aspect of your PR strategy can be costly, because people are most likely talking about your business – whether you’re aware of it or not.  Make good use of google alerts and social media apps to keep abreast of what’s being said about your business online, and know which review sites your customers are using so that you can leverage good reviews and respond to negative reviews in a timely manner.

12.   Ignoring or Neglecting Your Online Presence

Social media can be an excellent tool for maximizing the reach of your PR efforts, or it can be that blight on your overall digital presence.  In fact, anything from a poorly designed website to an abandoned Twitter handle to an unprofessional LinkedIn photo can detract from your company’s image online.  Take the time to clean up your digital properties, and keep it simple – stick to the social media channels that you can maintain with quality and that provide the most value to your business.  Your online presence should be tidy and complete.

13.   Poor Public Response or Lack Thereof

Most PR experts will tell you that in a PR crisis, there’s no room for “no comment.”  A lack of response invites speculation, or worse, can signal apathy or cause public distrust.  Similarly, an unthoughtful or excuse-laden response will only do more damage.  So whether you’re blowing up on Twitter or simply getting negative Yelp reviews — aim for timeliness, transparency and sincerity in your response.  When the crisis is severe, rather than making decisions on the fly, you will want to consult your PR damage control plan, which will go a long way in keeping your company’s reputation and integrity in check.

14.   You Got No Respect for the Media

Whether you’re spamming them, harassing them, or acting like they owe you something – treating journalists with disrespect will get you absolutely nowhere.  Plus, it’s just plain rude. Media folks are busy people, so don’t take it personally if you don’t get a response.  Treat them like human beings (or better yet, cultivate a relationship with them), and you’ll not only be a better person – you’ll be in a better position to get their attention when it matters.

15.   You Don’t Know How to Pitch Yourself

Your pitches are too long, too wordy, robotic, irrelevant…and the list goes on.  In other words, there’s a right way to do a PR pitch, and there are dozens of wrong ways.  If you’re not writing good pitches, then you’re just wasting your time.  We could go on and on about this, and we have! Check out our post on 50 incredibly helpful tips on pitching the press.


Interested in more tips or have a question?  Feel free to reach out to us @bitesizepr