7 PR Mistakes to Avoid in 2017

According to research from Havas Media, a whopping 55 percent of people have a natural distrust for brands — and this number is further increasing.

What do you do when a good percentage of your target audience do not naturally trust you? You work on your PR game. Unfortunately, most brands do not understand how PR works. As a result, they keep breaking written and unwritten rules.

If you want to get results from your PR efforts in 2017, it is absolutely essential to avoid the following mistakes — most of these are based on research, and paying attention will surely yield positive results:

  1. Not Having a PR Strategy: Ask most people what they are doing about their PR, and the majority will say things like, “I hired a PR expert,” “I regularly monitor social media for user comments” or “I regularly do outreach to publications to cover my business.” While these are all good actions, very few people actually do what matters most: have a PR strategy. In fact, statistics show that just 19 percent of PR/communications people are involved when companies plan their marketing strategy.

Not having a PR strategy is recipe for disaster — especially in 2017. It is essential to have a PR strategy that outlines your goals, tasks, execution style and what to do in case of a crisis. It is also very important to document your strategy. A clear, documented strategy could mean the difference between success and failure in your PR efforts.

  1. Not Having a Share-Worthy Story: Journalists are inundated with queries from companies that want to be covered, and increasingly so. In a world where journalists are busy and overwhelmed with requests to cover different businesses, how do you stand out? By having a shareworthy story! In fact, research by Edelman found that 76 percent of journalists are pressured to think about how shareworthy a story is before covering it.

Not having a shareworthy story can kill your PR efforts in 2017. How do you make your story shareworthy? Here are some tips:

  • Be involved in a major cause, and encourage journalists to cover you from that angle.
  • Key into a major event, and pitch journalists to cover you from that angle.
  • Do something unusual in your niche (break a widely covered trend, get involved in serious controversy, etc.) and get journalists to cover you from that angle.
  1. Only Aiming for the Big Shots: We all have big name journalists we want to cover our story, but if you’re honest with yourself, what is the likelihood of that journalist that gets pitched by dozens of people every day covering you? It takes more than an interesting story to get press, and when you’re only focused on having the big shots cover you, you will lose out on a lot of coverage.

Buffer co-founder Leo Widrich reports this to be one of the techniques they used to get lots of media coverage in their early days.

In 2017, revise your strategy to include outreach to up and coming journalists — you know, the greenhorns that do not really have a name yet. While they don’t have a name, they have access to the same platform as the big shots, they get significantly fewer requests than the big shots, and they are more likely to find your story interesting. Once they have covered you, it is easy to get the big shots to notice and cover you.

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  1. Taking an Impersonal Approach to Outreach: Automation is good, but — depending on how you do it — it can actually harm your PR instead of help it. Many people do outreach by adding journalists and influencers to an email list and sending them bulk emails — not only could that be illegal (spam, remember!) but it has actually been found to be ineffective.

Many journalists will ignore you if you don’t personalize your email to them. Simply doing research and addressing journalists by name can go a long way to boost responses to your emails, and research has shown that simply personalizing your emails can increase responses by up to 303 percent.

  1. Not Blogging: When many people think PR, they instantly think about everything except blogging. However, joking with blogging in 2017 will be a serious PR mistake. In fact, research already shows that blogs are the fifth most trusted source of accurate information online. Your blog is one of the few channels that you actually truly control that allows you to have a voice and keep your users in the loop of what is really happening. Also, starting a blog isn’t complicated, and resources like this can get you setup in minutes.
  1. Ignoring the KISS Principle: Keep it Simple, Stupid. That’s one principle you shouldn’t ignore in 2017. If you do it, you do so at your peril.

Research shows that we now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish, and that our attention span declines at a rapid pace every year. In other words, journalists will become more impatient than ever in 2017 — even more, they will be inundated with more requests than ever… making things increasingly complicated.

According to a Greentarget study, 70 percent of journalists spend no more than one minute on every email they open — so you have just one minute to get the attention of most journalists. Anything that requires them to spend more than one minute on your emails is pretty much a waste of effort.

Keep things simple. Only include facts, and highlight important points in bullet points.

  1. Ignoring Your Email Game: Do you know how many emails are sent every second? A whopping 2.5 million emails. And journalists get significantly more emails than the average person. As a result, subject lines can be the most important factor that determines whether a whopping 79 percent of journalists will open your email or not.

Not working on your email game can cripple your PR strategy in 2017.

In order to improve responses to your emails, first work on your subject lines. Also, realize that journalists are busy people, so follow up if you don’t hear back after a few days. According to research by the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, that analyzed over 16 billion emails, 90 percent of people will respond to your emails within 48 hours or never.

If you don’t get a response to your emails in 48 hours, follow up.

John Stevens is a marketing consultant who has been featured in Business Insider, Adweek and Entrepreneur.com. He is the founder and CEO of Hosting Facts.

(Photo Credit: Pexels)

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