Common Public Relations Mistake

Public relations is a very important part of growing and maintaining a business, so it is imperative to be doing one's best and not making avoidable mistakes. The best way to avoid these blunders is to know the most commonly made mistakes. If you know what brings down most businesses, you have an advantage when it comes to staying at the top of your PR game. 

There are lists and lists of common PR mistakes. It can be quite daunting and a little depressing when you start looking, but most of them can be put into bigger categories that can make it a lot easier to follow. 

Know what you're doing

Whether you are a hired PR pro or a business owner going it alone, the fatal mistake is not being ready. It is easier than you think to bite off more than you can chew. You may think you know all there is to running the PR for the selected business, but public relations is a pretty wide topic. It is important to have a working knowledge of quite a few different outlets, including newspaper and online. It is also key to understand the value of news and the urgency of what news you're delivering. 

Another thing that is easily overlooked is how much research may be necessary. It can be fatal to a business to be sending out obviously under-researched or just dead wrong material. Not knowing and/or understanding what you should and shouldn't be doing is a common and pretty deadly mistake that is also easily avoidable. 

Watch what you're saying

Public relations is all about communication. Unfortunately, there are more wrong ways to communicate that there are right ways. When corresponding with clients, both potential and existing, other businesses, news outlets and anyone else that can help further a business, it is imperative to be careful how you are talking to them. 

Some mistakes in communication are more obvious than others. You want to be sure your content is relevant and that all names are correct. This goes for both news and press release content as well as personal letters and emails. It can be just as deadly to incorrectly address someone you hope to get something from as it is to broadcast a wrong name to the world. Another obvious, yet common, the mistake is inappropriate content. Again, no matter if it going to one person or one hundred people, inappropriate content can give a business a bad reputation moving forward. 

Not as obvious mistakes can be just as detrimental. Some of the most common are robot-pitching, too many niceties, too much jargon and being repetitive. The difficult thing about these mistakes is that sometimes, they can seem like a really good idea. 

Having one pitch that you can fill in the blanks and tailor to everyone sounds like a really good time-saving technique, but when you do that, they know. When you are pitching to someone, you are asking them for something. If you want them to hear you out, you need to make them feel special. Sending out a generic message is a sure fire way to get ignored. 

For the same reason, it is important to come across as genuine. Using too many niceties may feel like the best way to connect with someone but it can come off really fake if you go overboard. It is always safer to sound professional and watch out for slang and jargon that some may not understand. 

Know what's newsworthy

Press releases and public news announcements are a great way to get news out there and stay relevant, but if they're handled poorly, the effect can be a negative one. The most common and deadly mistake is a non-story. Having a press release just to have a press release can really bring a business down. Both the public and reporters get excited about announcements and new news so when the news flops it can really lower their opinions of the business. 

In addition to knowing when to pass on press announcements, there are other mistakes that can be made even if the news is hot. Good news can still flop if the timing is wrong or if you miss the chance for a follow-up. Another big mistake is too much hype. Maybe your news is news, but how important is it going to be to the public? Revving up the hype only to deliver a moderately exciting announcement is just another way to bring down the opinions surrounding your business. 

Be reliable

Another obvious, but easy to make mistake is to crack under the pressure. Missing deadlines and not having goals and crisis plans seem easy enough to avoid, but it is also easy to get in over your head. It is important to think ahead and make plans so when things do get hectic and busy, crises can be handled and deadlines can be met without a breakdown. Even when things get a little hectic, you don't want to gain a reputation as someone unreliable and flaky either for your own PR business or for a business you are working for. 

Know when to ask for help

Both asking and not asking for help are common mistakes made in PR. That in itself can be very confusing when just starting out, but it's really quite simple. Your job is to handle the public relations duties. If you are constantly asking for help from other people, no matter who they are, you aren't handling your job and someone is going to notice. It gives you as a PR professional the image of someone who doesn't know what they're doing as well as burning bridges with people who are tired of constantly coming to your aid. 

While it is important to be careful how often you're asking for help and try to handle your responsibilities, mistakes are more easily made when you are overwhelmed and in over your head. Simply asking for help can eliminate these mistakes. That being said, it is very important to be conscious of when you really need help and when you can work it out on your own. 

Things happen and mistakes are made. One mistake is not likely to be the end of a career, but knowing how to avoid easy and commonly made errors can really help you take your career even further.