How to Fail at Public Relations

March 28, 2013

By: Sylvie
Cosmyk, punisher of unworthy PR pros, is already on the lookout for PR flaks who tell lies. If you want to have Cosmyk strip you of your PR pro title, here are three more unforgivable mistakes you can make:

  1. Spray and pray: Sending out pitches to everyone and his mom, whether those pitches are relevant to your news or not, is a good way to fail at media relations. Not to mention, you are likely to get yourself and possibly your entire company blacklisted by reporters who think you are just a spammer. PR superheroes know that researching and finding the appropriate media contact is a must before sending out any pitch.
  2. Talk only in pre-approved marketing language: If every other word out of your mouth is a buzzword (e.g., “world-class,” “leading-edge,” “state-of-the-art”), journalists on the other end of the phone will be quick to roll their eyes and hang up on you before you can finish reciting your script. No reputable reporter is going to take a PR flak's word that his company's new product is game-changing, so don't bother making that claim. Instead, talk about the benefits customers gain from this awesome product or the problems it solves, and the reporter should be able to come to the right conclusion himself (if, in fact, you have a “disruptive, best-of-breed, paradigm-shifting solution”).
  3. Don't do your homework: Parroting marketing jargon is also a sign of not having done your homework to understand your own business. If you haven't already been hung up on and the reporter asks you to explain your revolutionary news and you can't do it in layman's terms, it shows you have no clue what you're talking about. And if you don't know what you're talking about, neither will the reporter whom you are trying to convince to write a story.

What other bad habits have you seen in public relations professionals?

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