5 Mistakes Killing the PR Industry
The problem with the PR industry isn’t with the true pros behind it. It’s with all the folks who think it’s so simple they can do it themselves without any training, or the PR folks who try to take the easy route. It's painful to have to watch others continue to tear apart the foundation that hardworking PR professionals have sweated blood and tears to build up. Here are five mistakes that are killing the industry.
- My company is a story in itself. Think again. Do you know how many folks launch a company annually? A heck of a lot more than there are reporters. In order to be an asset to a reporter and score press for your company, you’ve got to have an understanding of what makes a good story. That takes research, time, reporter and industry insight, and much more. Too many folks are out their pitching themselves with no knowledge of best practices. Reporters view us all the same whether we work an agency or run our own business so all of these ill-targeted and flat pitches are adding up to more clutter/frustration for media.
- Just hit send. Mail merges have been around for quite some time but in my opinion they were just another nail in the PR industry’s coffin. They remove any form of “personal” from the media/PR professional’s relationship, starting with a generic media list made from a database, a pitch written for everyone supposedly covering a specific beat and a program to send it to everyone. That’s real personal. Makes a reporter feel all warm and fuzzy inside. What's even better is when it messes up and ends up sending notes with an intro titled, “Dear XX” or the wrong name altogether.
- I want Arrington. Arrington has moved on but his legacy continues. Some PR reps are probably breathing sighs of relief…not only for his occasional rants on the industry but also because CEOs often have the mindset that their story is only valuable if written by the head honcho at a news outlet. By singling out the top guy, they are not only limiting your chances because that certain reporter has to sift through an unfathomable number of emails, but also because they aren’t targeting the reporter that focuses on their niche. Sending pitches to reporters because of their status rather than their interests is one reason why reporters get annoyed.
- Let’s put out a press release. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I still see value in news/press releases; they can be very helpful to reporters, providing background info such as the parties involved, details of the news, etc. The problem with releases is that every Tom, Dick and Harry thinks they need to push one out for any type of announcement. Too much of something can ruin anything.
- Figure it out for yourself. The daily grind in the PR industry is no piece of cake. Sometimes it can feel like you only just stepped off the elevator when the clock chimes five. Not that you are headed home anytime soon but it just reminds you that you need more time. One of the first “to dos” to go from the list is mentoring and professional development, but it needs to be a made a priority. Otherwise, all those lessons you learned the hard way won’t be shared, and your staff and peers won’t be as strong as they could be. PR practices need to be taught – respect the industry and help out its next generation.
What other mistakes are killing the industry?