It’s easy to get excited when you’re planning your announcement or product launch to the media. And it’s even easier to think that PR works like an episode of Mad Men, where someone throws back a few shots of whiskey and comes up with a brilliant plan that earns the company millions of dollars. It’s like magic!
The truth is that PR is more science, less magic (and little to no whiskey). The companies who get it right are the ones who create a consistent buzz in a variety of ways with a well developed content strategy.
But to get you ahead of the pack, we’ve identified six common mistakes people make when creating a PR strategy. Read on to learn what NOT to do… then sit back and watch the “magic” happen!
Starting too late
News is new, but that doesn’t mean it happens at the last minute. PR pros and journalists both know that proper planning makes for great stories. Timing is key, so check for any big releases or keynotes planned at the same time as your launch or announcement. If so, you may need to adjust your timetable to allow for better media coverage.
Give the media 1-2 weeks of lead time, and give additional time for product review or testing if you’re planning a product launch. And keep in mind that time of day is just as important as the lead time when pitching. The prime time to pitch a journalist? First thing in the morning during the middle of the week.
Creating the same message for multiple audiences
Journalists are people, too! They like personalized pitches because it shows you’ve done your research. Read a journalist’s stories, check their social media feeds, review their outreach preferences in Muckrack or Cision. The key is to be personal, clear, and concise.
Draft one press release for the wire, but tailor your pitches to specific groups of reporters or media outlets. For example, we recently worked with an automotive client who wanted to get more people out their facility test drive their high-end luxury cars. We created different pitches for journalists based on whether they covered cars, travel, or luxury items. Personalizing the pitches meant we got a high response rate and the client got the coverage they desired.
Not aligning social media, marketing and PR calendars together
Let’s do a quick PR recap. Your strategy is the plan you develop to make the coverage/ launch/ crowdfunding happen. Your tactics are the steps you take to carry out the plan.
Social media and marketing should be part of the strategy. When planning a release, pull social media, marketing and PR together and make them cohesive.
Not creating brand experiences
A brand is more than the product or service you’re selling. It’s an experience, a mindset, a way of life. The best companies know how to recreate that experience in unique and unexpected ways.
It starts with attention to detail, from the wording on every print piece to the color palate on social media to the way you package a product for shipping. But it’s also more than that. Think of ways you can engage the media – and your target market – to showcase more than your product or service. It doesn’t have to be as outrageous as Netflix’s Altered Carbon booth at CES, but it is a great idea to think outside the box when it comes to engaging customers and the media.
Not planning for both short and long term
Your announcement is just the beginning! Just as you should have short and long-term goals in life, it’s also key to make several plans for your PR strategy. We typically begin with 3-month goals for our clients, and then work with them to move to 6-month, 12-month, and multi-year goals as needed.
Remember, long-range plans can be tweaked if needed, but having no plan at all is setting yourself up to miss key details and derail your strategy. Start with your most short-term goal, and build out to include goals up to 3 years out.
Not being specific or having specific goals
Having goals is good. Having specific goals is better. When planning, think about what you want to accomplish, and attach concrete facts and figures to it when possible.
For example, rather than saying we want media coverage, be specific. How much media coverage? Across which industries? Which outlets are your top three choices? How many impressions do you want to get? Do you want print, television, online, blogger, Youtube, etc?
We want seven media stories in a mix of print, online, and television coverage. We’d love for our product to be featured on GMA and in a print airline travel magazine. We also want to get local media coverage from the three big stations in our region.
When you’re specific, you can better measure success, tweak goals, and plan your next steps.
A well thought-out PR strategy will keep you focused on the right goals, the right messaging, and the right timing. So pick up that pen, start brainstorming your strategy, and make the magic happen!