I recently read an article on Inc.com about the five common marketing mistakes CEO’s make. As I read it, I started thinking about common public relations (PR) mistakes companies and individuals make.
In his Inc.com article, Steve Cody listed the fourth thing CEO’s do wrong is mistreating the media. Cody writes, “While some entrepreneurs expect to be lionized by the media, they rarely treat reporters with the same respect they would extend to a big prospect or customer. I’ve seen numerous media relationships destroyed before they even begin when a busy entrepreneur decides to cancel a TV interview at the last second. Later, he’ll be completely baffled when his PR adviser tells him that the TV network is no longer interested.”
He continues, “Reporters can be critical to building your business. Treat their time the same way you would with the purchasing manager of that million-dollar contract you’ve been trying to land. Don’t cancel meetings!”
In addition to this tip, here are four other common PR mistakes to avoid:
- Over promising and under delivering. I run into this a lot. People want to be helpful or impress the media, so they make promises they can’t or don’t intend to keep. This can be as simple as promising to get back to a reporter with follow up information and failing to do so. It can include promising to provide them an exclusive on a story or provide them with industry data and statistics only to not follow through and give them what you’ve promised. These types of mistakes are costly to you and your reputation. One of the common mistakes I see is companies that say they have thousands of clients willing to talk to the media and provide testimonials or do media interviews. When the time comes to connect the media with clients suddenly these thousands of clients are all unavailable to talk to the press.
- An inability to meet deadlines. The media is driven by deadlines. It’s what makes or breaks their success. If you are given a deadline or know a reporter has a specific deadline and you fail to meet it, you cost the reporter a story, success and prestige. You also damage your reputation and quickly become somebody the media knows they can’t trust or rely on to deliver what they need when they need it. On the flip side, if you meet a reporters deadline, and prove that you understand the importance of a deadline, you become a trusted source for the media and somebody they will come back to the next time they need a story or a source for a story.
- Withholding information. Part of actively engaging in public relations (PR) requires that you share and talk about yourself, your company, product and service. By doing this you gain recognition for what you do and can demonstrate that you’re an expert in your industry and a thought leader. An inability or unwillingness to share information can make it appear as if you have something to hide or that you don’t know what you’re talking about.
- Being on time. Nothing screams indifference like showing up late. I’ve written about this topic before, but it’s an important topic that bears repeating. An inability to arrive on time is a sign of laziness and demonstrates that you don’t care, that an interview or meeting with the press is unimportant. When working with the media it can destroy your brand and reputation. By being prompt and keeping commitments you build trust and demonstrate your commitment to your career, the media, your clients and the others that you work with.
If you want to stay in good standing with the media, it’s important to treat them with respect, provide valuable information, deliver on your promises, be on time and meet their deadlines.