As a small business owner, there is nothing more exciting than the promise a great PR opportunity brings.
The combination of the nerves you feel when being interviewed by a journalist and the knowledge that the result of that opportunity will lead to new customers for your business is a little intoxicating. But, that PR opportunity probably won’t happen if you make these rookie mistakes.
1. Getting your timing wrong
Glossy magazines have lead times of around three months and newspaper sections are written at least a week in advance, but are often themed way before that. Even online media outlets will have deadlines for publicity submissions. Check the deadlines of the outlets you are pitching and make a note in your media list to ensure you don’t miss an opportunity. Additionally, knowing a publication’s schedule means you won’t contact a journalist when they’re right on deadline. This is a surefire way to guarantee you won’t get a response.
2. Death by acronym
When you’re writing a media release or article about your business it is very easy to slip into the industry acronyms and jargon you would use if speaking with a supplier. However, you should never assume your potential customers or the general reader (who may not need your product or service but might know someone who does) will automatically understand every term that rolls off your tongue.
3. Not following up
You’ve spent the time writing a media release and pitching it to a number of media outlets, but your role as a PR agent doesn’t stop there: you must follow up. A journalist almost always needs prompting, so make sure you follow up any release or pitch with an email reminding them about your news. It’s often not until this second contact (or even a third) when a journalist will respond to a PR query, so think of how many opportunities you’re missing out on by not chasing them.
4. No knowledge of the outlet
It is obvious you haven’t done your research if you fail to follow the PR guidelines set out by the media outlet you’re approaching. Many have specific contact people or a PR email address to send media releases to and if you haven’t checked these beforehand, then you’re relegating your pitch to the trash folder.
5. Failing to plan
There are number of basics you should have in your marketing kit before you embark on any PR: a good story (try to tie your business news to a current story in the media), high resolution photos (head shots plus images of you with your product/demonstrating your service) and the time to be interviewed (self explanatory, but if you’re unavailable when a journalists calls your competitor might be their next call). Without each of these ingredients your PR efforts are going to fail.
I’ve written about some of the points above in more detail in previous posts on planning your PR, crafting a PR pitch, or what to write about when publicising your business.