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The 2024 State of the Media Report

Get actionable insight from 3,000+ journalists on what they truly want and need from PR teams.

5 Reasons You Aren't Meeting Your PR Goals (And What To Do About It)

Goals are a necessary evil of any effective PR or marketing communications campaign. After all, you can’t measure success if you don’t set goals. Goals also help you identify which metrics to track and inform the shape of your strategy; however, there are often so many factors at play – that aren’t necessarily in your control (like, say, a pandemic?) – that can prevent you from meeting those goals. The best you can do is try to identify the factors that are within your control and adjust your strategy accordingly. 

Below are five possible obstacles getting in the way of your campaign goals – and what you can do to fix them.

Obstacle #1: Lack of support from the C-suite

Any company initiative that isn’t supported from the very top is going to have an uphill battle, and PR is no exception. Getting buy-in from the executive team is critical for virtually every aspect of PR – from securing budget to execute on campaigns or get the right software in place, to acting as credible spokespeople and brand ambassadors. (According to the 2021 State of the Media report, journalists are more likely to cover your story when they can get interviews with company or brand executives or spokespeople.)

How to fix it: If you’ve been measuring the results of your PR efforts, you should have a fair amount of data to show PR’s impact (or its potential impact, if it were). Pair that with a few success stories to make a solid case to win over the C-suite..

Obstacle #2: Inconsistent messaging

This tends to happen when PR, marketing and other communications teams within an organization work separately from each other and in silos. If these teams aren’t communicating with one another, you could be sending out different – or even conflicting – messages about the organization or brand that only result in confusing audiences and weakening the brand.

How to fix it: By working in collaboration with teams outside your own, you can ensure you’re working toward the same goals, playing to each others’ strengths and sending a consistent message across all channels.

Obstacle #3: Poor timing

If we’ve learned anything from the events of 2020, it’s the importance of timing when it comes to messaging and being able to “read the room.” If you aren’t meeting your goals, it could be that the message you’re sending isn’t right for the moment.

How to fix it: Pay attention to the trends and events that are happening around you. Monitoring the media enables you to stay on top of the conversations around your brand, industry and competitors, and build messaging based on what you’re hearing to ensure you’re hitting the right tone for the moment.

Obstacle #4: Not living up to promises

Another important lesson from 2020 was the need for companies to prioritize corporate social responsibility and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives; however, they have to be more than just a box for companies to check. Consumers don’t just want and expect authenticity from brands, they demand it. If the brand you represent does not “practice what it preaches” behind the scenes, your audiences will find out – and they won’t take to it kindly.

What to do about it: Social listening tools can help you understand what audiences are saying about your brand, so you can make strategic decisions based on that intel. Use the insights you find to inform your leadership team and advise on brand management strategies.

Obstacle #5: It’s not you, it’s them (your goals, that is)

Finally, if you’re not meeting your goals, you might need to look at your goals. Are you aiming too high? Sure, it would be amazing to be on the cover of The Wall Street Journal or as a top story on Good Morning America, but it might not be realistic at this time.

How to fix it: Not to say that shouldn’t reach for the stars like Casey Kasem would want you to, but don’t discount the value of local news coverage and lesser known, but more targeted trade and niche publications. Take, for example, how Adobe recently found that 65% of the 3,000 outlets they pitched to only generated one story about the brand, while a group of about 500 outlets generated 75% of all quality coverage. Adobe now focuses on this smaller group of outlets, which saves time and money while producing better end results.

If, after examining and revising your strategy, you’re still not meeting your goals, consider partnering with an industry expert who will take the time to understand your organization, your objectives and find the right solutions.

Mary Lorenz

Mary Lorenz is Editorial Director at Cision and writes about best practices and thought leadership for marketing, communications and public relations professionals. She has a background in marketing, public relations and journalism and over 15 years of experience in copywriting and content strategy across a variety of platforms, industries and audiences.