PR practices to consign to the scraphead

Securing coverage in the media is getting harder by the day so don’t make the process even tougher by clutching onto redundant public relations practices that no longer work and could potentially harm your brand.

PR activities that need to be taken to scrap.

Here are SIX tactics and strategies you should have reduced to scrap years ago:

1. Spamming journalists

This is often referred to as the ‘spray and pray’ method – that is, sending out your pitch to everyone imaginable in the hopes it will elicit some response.

Sure, your news may be exciting but don’t batch-send to everyone as it sends the wrong message. Journalists can tell and it leaves a bad taste in their mouths and could water down the attention your story deserves.

Best practise:

  • Instead do your research and select journalists who are the best fit for your story. A good idea would be to check what stories they have written in recent times and if these stories relate to the piece you are about to send out. Remember, they may have changed their beat and are writing across other topics.
  • Also don’t send to the main newsroom email (unless instructed to do so). Instead email your story direct to the relevant journalist. In the message section of the email explain why the story is relevant to their readership and why it deserves their attention. This type of email adds a personal touch that will set your news apart and ideally pave the way for a future relationship with that journalist.

 2. Making your story about your brand

Trust me having your story about your brand will have the media running for the trees. There’s nothing they detest more than being seen as your in-house PR agency.

So where possible avoid being overtly commercial when talking about your company, services or products.

Naturally this can be difficult if you have just launched your organisation, entered into a joint venture or released a new product.

Best practise:

The stories most likely to be picked up by the media are those that:

  • Are based on research (ideally your own).
  • Address industry trends or challenges and covers off how your brand has dealt with those challenges.
  • Are topical and address the issues of the day and relate to what is happening in the broader environment.
  • Respond to what is keeping your audiences awake at night and provide real solutions to real problems.
  • If you are running media releases about new products or services, use the art of story-telling and talk about how your products and services have helped customers or have filled a genuine gap in the market and as a result made a significant contribution.

3. Relying on media releases only

Sadly there are still those who believe that public relations practises are only about media releases.

Stick to this thinking and you will not only drive the media totally demented by constantly tossing stories their way (remember they don’t want to be your PR agency) but you will damage your brand in the process.

Best practise:

Don’t limit your PR to media activity only. There is a treasure trove of communications platforms at our finger tips so instead of simply blasting out media releases in order to gain attention, vary your approach by:

  • Creating your own blog.
  • Creating content such as e-books, infographics, best practise, white papers, video, podcasts and so on.
  • Use paid social ads to reach a wider audience.
  • Create stand-out social profiles for your brand and engage your audience on these platforms.

This way you will reach more people and have greater success establishing your brand’s presence.

 4. Undue focus on big name news outlets

I’ve heard it all before from new clients embarking on their first media outing: “I only want to be in the prestige media,” is the common refrain.

Sure, I understand that big-name publications such as the Australian Financial Review and The Australian or news outlets such the ABC carry enormous weight. However they are not the only game in town.

Best practise:

  • Include lesser known and less prestigious media. They too have a following well worth tapping into. Ask any PR agency worth their salt and they will tell you about the advantages of including niche and trade publications and regional media in their PR mix.
  • Also reach out to bloggers, YouTube channels and podcasters that fit into your niche. This way you can be guaranteed of reaching significantly bigger audiences.

Very important: By getting published in smaller, lower-profile outlets, you improve the odds of being picked up by a larger, more prestigious publications next time round.

5. Using a wire service

According to US PR guru, Wendy Marx, while wire services were the industry’s gold standard a few decades ago, they’ve lost some of their value in the decades since. More than that, she says they could actually be harming your strategy – modern journalists view news from wire services as just plain spammy.

Best practise:

  • In addition to sending out a release, consider other ways to get the word out. For example, social media can often achieve better results at a lower price. Journalists often look for stories on social media networks like Twitter using industry hashtags. 
  • Another tip is to message journalists direct on social media with a story idea. You never know your luck!
  • As mentioned previously the best way of getting your story into the hands of the right people is to email them directly. However when embarking on this practise, make sure the title in your subject line is so compelling, your email is not left unopened. 

 6. Outdated media kits

We’re in the digital age so please, no more physical press kits beautifully bound in expensive folders and emblazoned with your business logo. We’ve moved on and everything needs to be available electronically.

Best practise:

  • All your images – headshots, infographics, product shots, and logos – should be available electronically for easy download.
  • Given that video is becoming an essential player within PR, using one in your media kit could help get your story across the line.
  • Links to past media coverage could also provide journalists with additional context. Better still, knowing your organisation has had previous media coverage, will most certainly encourage other media to want to write about you. 
  • To make it even easier for journalists to pick up your materials and run a story, provide a link to Dropbox and allow them to select and access the materials they need.

Very important:
Don’t leave things there. Blog about your media release and if you do land coverage, blog about that as well.

Favourable media coverage can be extended in a variety of ways:

  • Link to coverage from your website. Be sure to post links to the media placement from the online media room on your website.
  • Highlight coverage on your home page. Also feature your prized coverage on your site’s home page. It can be something as simple as just the media outlet’s logo linked to the story (for example, “As Featured In XYZ Magazine”).
  • Get social. Today the majority of online media articles provide readers with the option of ‘sharing’ and/or providing comments so make sure you use this facility. Get all your staff to share the story with their connections on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and so on.
  • Send an email. Launch a special email with a link to the media placement to customers, suppliers and any other groups you think might be interested.

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