Four Sure-fire Ways to Sabotage Your PR Success
Many brands unintentionally undermine their own success by committing these four common public relations mistakes.
Sabotage #1: Mistaking public relations opportunities for marketing opportunities
Even the most sophisticated marketing organizations sometimes struggle to understand why perfectly honed and packaged sales and marketing communications don’t play out in media relations efforts. These key messages must, of course, inform the stories that we cultivate, but cannot necessarily be the basis for the coverage itself. The media isn’t interested in repeating taglines, touting product features and benefits or producing content that would otherwise exist as paid advertising space in their publication or outlet. Not only would blatant brand or product promotion erode their credibility as a trusted source of independent information, but that would also be working contrary to their own financial best interests. Their business model is based on competitively providing their audience with an independent perspective on a story that they can’t get anywhere else – in a way that doesn’t feel like they are selling something. We see the most success when we are able to align business goals and marketing goals with media coverage goals – and build strategies and programs that ensure all activities are fully coordinated and build off of the successes across all channels and platforms. To reach our end audience, we must first understand and meet the needs of our intermediary audience – the journalists and editorial staff of the outlets whose audiences’ attention we crave.
Sabotage #2: Ignoring the importance of niche target audience strategies
Brands have many layers and therefore have a variety of audiences to reach and engage. While coverage in large national outlets is important in general, it is too often used as a non-specific, catch-all goal to the detriment of more personalized and meaningful coverage for specific target audiences. For example, a story placement or advertisement on a national daily news show may be great to increase awareness of a product or service, but does it really resonate with our intended audience and motivate people to take specific action? Your brand is best served with a sustained, multi-pronged approach. While national media should most certainly be a part of a comprehensive earned media strategy, smaller niche media offer essential and effective story nuances that shouldn’t be ignored. Market research and competitive audits should be used to accurately define who your target audiences are and what messages will best resonate with them. These insights can then be translated into a series of smaller, hyper-focused media angles to complement broader national initiatives. The end result is the ability to deliver highly-personalized messaging that more relevantly connects with the consumer in a personal way, making them more likely to take a specific action.
Sabotage #3: Trying to do everything all at once
Contrary to logic, the more successful your PR efforts are, the more time and effort it will demand of you. It is easy to underestimate the timing and staffing needed to properly plan and execute major public relations initiatives. Successful activations are well thought out and carefully timed and calculated events. If you try to execute everything at once, two things can happen: you over-tax your own resources, especially the executives and thought leaders whose participation you require; or you over-saturate your communication channels and burn out your story pipeline more quickly than you can replenish it. While the latter may seem like a good problem to have – and it is, if you can continue to invest in timely content replenishment – the former is the worst problem you can possibly create. Success is ultimately dependent upon well-prioritized audiences, markets and outreach efforts, as well as executive-level buy-in on clearly defined success measures and timelines.
Sabotage #4: Expecting to control the outcome
More often than not, you need the media more than it needs you. They make the content and they own the distributon channel to the people you want to reach. You can earn the right to play their game or choose to sit on the bench, but the rules of editorial coverage are largely set by them, with some negotiatble wiggle room here and there. The currency of media relations is information. And the information itself must be thorough, accurate, timely, newsworthy and credible in order to be valuable. So while we do not control the coverage outcomes, we can most definitely influence them by leveraging productive relationships with our media contacts, which are built on consistent and ongoing interaction as sources of valuable resources and information they need in order to do their jobs.
If full control of your message is what you seek, earned media can offer you no guarantees. However, you do have a few other options available to you.
- owned media: make your own content and distribute it through the channels that you own, such as your website, newsletters, brochures, sales materials, etc.
- paid media: make your own content, and pay the going rate for predefined access to the distribution channel that already has access to your audience, also known as advertising.
Both are valuable components of a comprehensive marketing and communications strategy. But the inherent value of earned media is unmatched in trust and credibility that are transferred to your brand from the independent confirmation and conveyance of your information through third-party media.
We don’t recommend that you sabotage your PR efforts. BVK can work with you to develop a strategy and implement successful programs to ensure you meet your earned media goals.