7 Outdated Public Relations Tactics You Should Avoid

Ready to spread the news about your business? Here are 5 public relations tactics that will kill your chances at getting exposure for your brand or business.

Originally Published Oct. 7, 2018

I hate to be the one to tell you this, but if you’re still relying on traditional public relations tactics like press release distribution, it may be time to fire yourself or your PR agency. Thanks to digital technology, the landscape has changed, audience behavior has shifted, and the tactics have evolved. Are you prepared?

7 Big Public Relations Mistakes: 

Not Going Beyond the Press Release

Mass e-mailing your press release in hopes that it will be covered by hundreds of media outlets, just won’t cut it anymore. Many times, you’ll reach a journalist who doesn’t cover news related to your topic. Also, people are overwhelmed by email so personalizing your writing and being concise and to the point is key. Lastly, most journalists can tell when it’s a mass email because the subject line is spammy or vague (e.g., great story idea, media alert, or press release). In turn, your email gets ignored.

Craft your pitch for the media outlet’s target audience and address the journalist by name in the email. Think about it this way, how does your company announcement, product, service, or event add value to their specific audience? To increase the chances of an editor opening your email, write a compelling headline for the email subject line.

Relying Solely on Traditional Publicity Strategies

Traditional publicity such as television, radio interviews, newspaper/magazine articles, or ads only captures an audience’s attention for a short period of time. What’s next? How can you keep the momentum going? Considering about 67% of American adults rely on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter for news, you need to create at least a one-page electronic media kit and a 280-character story to get your story out there on your own social channels. Plus, consider other tactics like going Live on Facebook or Instagram and integrating storytelling to amplify your message and build on the buzz.

Not Rethinking Your Marketing Materials

Press kits are dyingEnter the world of electronic press kits (EPK). But take note, an EPK is more than saving a document as a pdf. Your electronic press kit is a one-stop-shop for downloadable images (e.g., logos, high-resolution product shots, headshots), links to past media coverage, videos, and any other background marketing materials a journalist might need when writing a story. Ultimately, you want the journalists to read your email pitch and entice them to click the link to your EPK to learn more. To create an EPK you can either create a shared folder in Dropbox or create an online newsroom on your website.

Not Focusing on Storytelling 

Storytelling is a highly effective PR tactic that many publicists or business owners often overlook. Beyond helping you build connections with your customers, storytelling can put you on the radar of national media outlets, influencers, and bloggers. But remember, just because it’s news for your company, doesn’t mean it’s news for the media. Pitch a story, not a topic, product, or service. Aim for at least three story angles and instead of relying on press releases, pitch the following:

  • Address industry trends, challenges, or answer common questions related to your product, service, or event.
  • Create a user-generated campaign where you ask followers to share videos or images of them using your product or sharing positive brand experiences. Create a custom hashtag for your campaign so you can keep track of their stories share on your own social channels.
  • Create short stories about real-life examples of customers who used your product or service. These stories should spotlight before and after results.
  • Don’t just tell what you do, explain how you do it. For instance, if you’re a chef, you can record a 1-minute video on how to prepare a variety of ingredients for one of your favorite recipes.

Thinking Only about Big Coverage 

While many people dream about getting coverage on major TV news outlets like Good Morning America, don’t ignore smaller publications, podcasts, or blogs. Sometimes articles on blogs or even YouTube shows can help you attract a journalist and national media outlets.

Not Building Relationships Outside of Those with Journalists 

Although building relationships with journalists has always been at the forefront of PR, bloggers often have just as much authority, reach, and influence as traditional media figures.

Not Using Analytics 

To understand your audience, determine where they hang out, and how to build relationships with them, Public relations professionals should rely on data and analytics (e.g., social media analytics) to drive their strategy. When you make data-driven PR decisions you can also predict audience interest, news cycle trends, and determine what type of stories work best on different platforms.

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