(Thanks to guest blogger Thomas Scott for his insights on navigating the dangers of PR)
Can PR kill you suddenly?
Can PR be hazardous to the health and well being of your company?
Absolutely. It can kill it in one fell swoop. Suddenly.
Public Relations practices are changing and the PR industry is in the middle of its most major culture shift in the past fifty years. We’re talking major paradigm shift here; the kind that happened when the iPod changed people’s music buying habits and Domino’s Pizza changed people’s pizza buying habits.
What’s the shift?
Journalists and bloggers, the individuals any successful PR campaign must target, have the lowest trust level of public relations companies, individuals and traditional PR content that they’ve ever had. We spent the entire last decade getting connected and wired to the internet and now we are suffering from overload. People want to have conversations where they trade tips and referrals and in order to have good conversations, you need interesting content.
Here are my 5 ways PR can suddenly kill your business – bizarre because they are counter-intuitive for those of us who have worked in the industry for lengthy amounts of time:
1. Write public relations and news releases in the traditional format. Trust me on this one – journalists have a keen awareness of ‘interesting’ and ‘not interesting.’ Those are the only two categories your content falls into. Period. Tell your story the way a journalist would tell it so it is really a story and not a release. Use traditional journalism methods to hook readers so they chose to know more. Forget to do this and your message will go right in the trash.
2. Write poorly thought of headlines. Headlines are called headlines because they serve a very important purpose: you are reading this blog post because I ‘gotcha’ with my headline. Admit it – it’s true! Take the time to write a catchy headline that people will flock to. Search Engine Optimization Experts understand this; it is at the root of the entire link baiting industry. Don’t know what that is? Google it – it applies more to PR than you realize!
3. Write content that is meaningless. As a journalist or blogger, I don’t care about your 59 cent taco. I care that your 59 cent taco kept the entire staff of a California farm employed in the down market or how a lowly 59 cent taco can decrease PMS levels in women suffering from a lack of iron (if that is true, please contact me). Be clear on what your story is and avoid stories that are not – well – stories. Journalists are professionally trained to seek out stories. No amount of calling on your part will convince them otherwise!
4. Call journalists to follow up. I know this is what real PR firms bill as a valuable service. I also know that as a journalist myself at a major market US daily, calling me to ‘follow up’ was a guaranteed way to get yourself and the company you represent blacklisted. Write better content and tell better, more compelling stories that people would want to talk about. Do that and you won’t have to call.
5. Forget about the longevity of a release. Creating content for a PR release is a lot more than sending to journalists. Current thinking among my unscientific group of 4 PR and social media friends is that if a content piece is really good, it is valuable. Keep your content and releases in your bank deposit vault – your company blog – so people can find it long afterwards and click on the link to your website. Every release you write should be on its own webpage, optimized with search engine tools and should have the ability for readers to both click through to your website and share on their social media networks. Forget that and all you’ll get is a whimper, not a bang.
VP Marketing for Showhomes, a nationally franchised home staging company: http://www.showhomesfranchise.com
Thomas is recovering journalist and a new media and content specialist.