"Oh, No!" - Three Common PR Mistakes

Posted by Amy Kenigsberg on Jan 2, 2024 2:05:00 PM

Time-for-NewsRecently, I spoke with a marketer who had used ChatGPT to revise some content he created; it initially performed in its "regular" way - writing the idea clearly, but being quite redundant. Of course, he had to tweak the prompt to ask it to vary the word choice. Once it did that, it incorrectly stated that the product did X and Y as a single feature. He had then had to "teach it" that those were two separate activities until it provided decent results.

What if he were in a hurry or didn't know enough about the product to understand that the AI created an error that wasn't there before?

That mistake would have significantly affected credibility among customers and the industry influencers. Of course, that's a "new" mistake.

Here are some oldies but goodies when it comes to PR errors...

1. The Missing Link - The PR Toolbox has to have everything in place long before the first press release goes out. So many companies shoot first and prepare later, but without the basics in place, they find they are so busy scrambling that they can’t present the reporter with all the tools she needs to write her story.

Here are a few things a company should keep in its PR Toolbox:

  • A messaging document – this should make your value clear across verticals as well as for different audiences within the purchase chain - what's in it for each person touched during the buying process? This will also provide a single voice to the market throughout your organization - from sales to support.
  • Internal experts - Bios on people within the organization who can speak to reporters about different aspects of the company. Unfettered PR access to key top-tier executives is essential if your PR person is going to get you bylined articles or arrange interviews.
  • External experts - An updated list of spokespersons, users, and case studies that can be made available to reporters in different verticals. If your product has a health angle, have appropriate healthcare professionals in your toolbox. If your product serves a specific field, have an objective expert on hand who is familiar with your product and can talk about its application in that industry. Users/customers should be provided since this often provides the strongest validation of your solution.
  • An easy-to-navigate website with video links that show exactly how your product works should be kept up-to-date. 

When these pieces are NOT in place and your PR person has a reporter on the line, chaos reigns. When you can deliver all the pieces, you are in much better control of your narrative.

2. The Dog Ate My Press Release - There is never, ever, EVER an excuse for promising a reporter (who may have promised their editor or producer) something that you may not be able to deliver! If you promise an interview with a key professional and the interviewee backs out without a reschedule date, the media person loses face with his editors, your PR person loses credibility, and your company and everyone involved looks terrible.



If you promise something by a certain date, deliver it, or risk losing the story AND the contact. It is very hard to reengage the media contact when you overpromise and do not deliver.

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3. High Expectations Lead to Overpitching - Your company is your baby; we agree with you - unless it's against your own best interest. We take a fresh eye and may need to tell you that where you stand isn't as stable as you think. We are always on the lookout for fresh angles, trying to figure out how to position your company to stand out (which AI can't do). The reporter is comparing you to every other player, and we need to make sure they see you in a different light.

It is up to us to tell the reporter WHY your baby is the best, but please know that if we do not get the response you expect, there may not be anyone to blame. After a few pitches we sit back and wait. Not every news item is immediately worthy of a homepage story, and some are - but maybe not when or in the exact publication you would like them to be. As we repeatedly tell our clients, of the 10K people who read the TechCrunch article about you, two may be potential clients or investors; the 50K readers of the article about you in Technical Widgets International are all potential clients and investors.

Know that if you do have a page-one story, it may take time to percolate. It may take years from first introduction to final appearance. 

We all make mistakes, but PR mistakes in today’s world may pop up in search engines or AI training data years later.

Putting your best PR foot forward and getting it right the first time will help your company achieve its PR goals, which support investment, marketing, and sales activities as well.

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Topics: Public relations, Journalist, News story, News value, Timeliness, Media resources, Press coverage, Press release, Media coverage, Media, Brand

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