5 Public Relations Tactics that Will Kill your Brand

As we enter a new year, it’s time to leave bad habits behind. Eradicating bad work habits is important to ensure your brand enters the new year on the right foot. 85% of consumers regularly or occasionally seek out trusted expert content — credible, third-party articles and reviews — when considering a purchase. PR at times can be even more effective than content marketing, so it’s important your brand knows what strategies to avoid.

There are certain public relations tactics that may try to follow you into 2017, so make sure these 5 do not.

1. Mail Merging Media Pitches

The mail merge was once a winning PR tactic because in seconds it sent hundreds or thousands of reporters a pitch about your company -- all with a few clicks. PR pros could create massive media lists and get the word out to everyone at once.

This tactic must die because it’s pointless and more often than not, you end up emailing reporters who are not relevant contacts. Reporters can tell when it’s a mail merge, because emails are not individual and show absolutely no effort.

Replace mail merging with research. Instead of casting a wide net and annoying potential contacts, research individual reporters, create a small, specialized list, and write individual pitches. Write why this particular reporter would be interested instead of generalized company information. It might take a bit longer, but the results will be much better.

2. Not Honoring Exclusives

If a reporter is getting an exclusive, they should be the only person to have access to certain information. PR people sometimes email 10 reporters with “exclusive” information, which can have disastrous results when reporters realize they’ve been cheated.

This tactic is frustrating to a reporter who is interested in having the first crack at the story. They will also no longer want to work with your brand if they know you aren’t honest about exclusives.

Replace not honoring exclusives with timed opportunities. Sometimes a reporter might ignore your exclusive offering, so put a time limit on the opportunity. Giving a reporter 24-48 hours to respond is not unreasonable and if they don’t scoop up the news, only then can you move on to another reporter.

3. Using Vanity Metrics

If you’re pitching a story about your company using any of the following metrics, it’s not a story:

  • Registered users

  • Downloads

  • Page views

Whether in an interview or in a pitch email, trying to skate by on vanity metrics is lazy. It tells a reporter that you haven’t bothered to measure anything real or you are trying to hide your real numbers.

Replace vanity metrics with real metrics. Reporting metrics such as engagement levels, cost-per-customer, revenue, and profit are much more interesting. If your company doesn’t have any interesting numbers to share, consider holding off your pitch until you do.

4. Being Late

Being late to an interview might not be rude in a certain culture, but it is rude for journalists. Remember that reporters are busy -- very busy in fact. If you knab an interview for your company, don’t ruin it by being late, even if it’s only a few minutes. You showing up to a call 5 minute late is giving the reporter a poor first impression.

Replace being late with being early. There can always be technical issues, so dial in 5-10 minutes early and just listen to the annoying music. No matter what the reason, you don’t want to waste a reporter’s time.

5. Ignoring Smaller Publications

We all want to have our brand featured in the New York Times or Wall Street Journal, but what other publications does your audience read? Being featured in a big publication will get you a lot of clicks to your website, but how many of those convert? Measure that against a feature in a smaller, niche publication that your audience reads daily - you might be surprised by the result.

Replace ignoring smaller publications with a broader search. If your company really understands its audience, then you are sure to find other blogs and media outlets that your audience reads. Also, those smaller publications are probably easier to reach, as they’re not inundated with thousands of pitches daily. Build a relationship with these publications and try to get a feature. Measure results and go from there.

Public relations is changing, and 2017 will be an interesting year for the industry as the role of media evolves. Starting with a robust strategy, brands can tackle PR this year and gain lots of media coverage. But it’s important to leave these five outdated and annoying tactics behind.

Want more PR hacks? Download 50 Public Relations Hacks for Startups and start really making noise.