5 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting a PR Program

Talk about thrilling time! Your company has been cleared to begin a public relations (PR) program. You are fully focused on the end goal; you're ready to be more visible, credible and to promote your thought leadership. Three, two…wait a second. Before you begin your media campaign, make sure your efforts aren't in vain. The following article highlights the five things to avoid if you want to ensure you are successful:

#1: Don't Put the Cart Before the Horse

Your competitors are already in the news, and this is where you want to be. Great! Having everyone one your team all wanting this goal is a fantastic start; however, before you start sending out emails or making phone calls to selected reporters on social media, make sure your strategy is clearly defined. What this means is that all of your team members must have a full understanding of what you want to share while making sure the messages are consistent within the rest of your organization. There are a few more questions to ask for clarification:

  • Your end goal: what is it?
  • Have you developed a calendar to help track your progress to keep you on track?
  • What media do you want to use and how will you use it to reach your audience?
  • Do you have a well-established blog with shareable videos and infographics?

An important part is content, as this will form the basis of your PR campaign. The point of this part is simply to make sure that before you lay your eggs, you get your nest in order.

#2: Don't Run Before You Walk

You've figured out what your goals are, and they are pretty high, so why not shoot for the stars? There is no reason why your outreach shouldn't include large, high-visibility outlets. This is because it is likely that your target audience reads them, but increased credibility is one outcome of PR. This means that once you dive in a get a few wins, more will soon follow. Simply put, news makes more news. Don't worry about starting small. Take a good amount of time to build a good relationship network, not just a list of names on a spreadsheet. If your goal is to do CNBC live, begin at the local level. This gives networks evidence of your expertise, style and speaking ability. Grow your portfolio and use your website's news page to showcase it. You'll soon be running with the bulls once you have a proven place within the industry.

#3: Don't Become Blinded by Shiny Objects

Your target media list is now created, and it contains the usual suspects, including trade publications. You want it so badly, but has the 'Holy Grail' made you oblivious to the contributions from various bloggers, podcasters and freelancers? I can assure you that editors and reporters read smaller publications, which is why you need to be in there too. The point is to not obsess about the big boys so that you miss the low-hanging fruit opportunities that are right there in front of you. Your focus can be distracted shiny objects. Therefore, spread your wings, keep your outreach diversified and carefully watch everything in your path, as it may become this quarter's best win.

#4: Don't Forget Where You Came From

At this point, your first few months of PR has got you some great wins. You want to send out a media report that shows the analytics (ie engagement, clicks, etc) at this point. Unfortunately, you didn't take note of where you actually began. It is nearly impossible to measure long-term success if you don't have a comparison point, such as what your organization was like prior to a PR program. How many articles did you release, and how many links were in them? What about the number of views, social shares and converted contacts? How did your efforts measure up to your competitors and their media relations? You must show the starting place of where your PR campaigns started so it can be effectively measured over the long-term. This means you need to take stock of what your current state is before you begin. If you don't do this, your PR program may not survive for long, as the executive team will not see its full value.

#5: Stop Running in Different Directions

Your PR program has just started, and you would like to contact the reporter of an article you recently saw so that you could add some extra value and insert a company thought leader into the conversation. The only problem is that you are unsure of who the thought leader should be! This is because the areas of expertise and the people responsible for them were not established ahead of time. Time is critical in PR, and your competitor will certainly take advantage of your missed opportunity. Prior to your PR program starting, make sure that everyone is on the same page. Establish all areas of interest and who in the organization will be facing the media for each area. Get a handle on who is doing what and when he/she is doing it. If your expectations are not clear, your opportunity will be scooped up by someone else.

Public relations is a key component to a great marketing strategy, so go at it will full effort. Take some time to fully understand your strategy. Start small, and once interest grows, you can spread your wings a bit. Make friends with freelancers as they can help you win with numerous outlets. Make a note of where you are before you begin and ensure all team members are on the same page. Once all of your I's are dotted and T's are crossed, a great PR program will take your brand to the new heights of success!

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Posted on Feb 13 2018

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5 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting a PR Program

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