Top Five PR Mistakes to Avoid

When one thinks of public relations blunders situations such as the BP oil spill and Toyota’s accelerator defects in 2010 may come to mind. Although we can all agree that crisis situations innately bring about negative public relations, the way a company handles these crisis will set the tone for its public image years after.  Here are the top five public relations blunders to avoid at all cost:

5. Bad Mouth the Competition

Although you might think your company’s product or services are the best, never bad mouth the competition in the press. Talking badly about the competition will not only make your company look bad in the public’s eye, but it takes away your opportunity to present your company’s key messages.

4. Say No Comment Period.

3. Forget about new media

For many companies, a placement in their town’s daily newspaper is the epitome of a successful media relations campaign. While traditional media does have its place, negative content on social media sites can cause a major PR crisis. To ensure your PR strategy is comprehensive, make sure your company is actively participating on social media as well as monitoring what is being said about the organization.

2. Thinking everything is newsworthy

Just because your company has a new product or  new staff member does not automatically mean the press will cover it. Any story that your company pitches to the media must adhere to one of the news values, which includes criteria such as timeliness, conflict, proximity and human interest. Essentially, whatever your company is pitching must have some impact  beyond the four walls of the building. Trust me!

If you really want to impress a reporter when pitching a story about your company, personalize the pitch by mentioning how it fits into their beat and other recent stories they have covered. To up the ante keep the pitch short (a page or a paragraph or two is even better) and include an angle. Including an angle allows you the chance to frame the message you want the public to receive (of course the media can and will write what it wants).

And the No. 1  PR blunder a business can make….

1. Lie: While some business people might view the PR person as a professional smart talker,effective public relations doesn’t involve lying. In today’s 24/7 media cycle and tech savvy world it’s not impossible for you to get away with lying, but your company will be burned at the stake by the media.  The Occupy Movement has clearly shown that people have an  inherent distrust for business, especially large corporations, so lying simply proves true all the negative perceptions people have of corporations.

While you should not lie, you do not necessarily have to show disclose every detail. The company’s level of disclosure all depends on the situation, taking into consideration both the legal, ethical and public opinion ramifications.

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