Here are 5 common PR mistakes to avoid

As with most new initiatives you might choose to undertake, PR campaigns can be challenging for the inexperienced. In this article, Ailsa Page discusses common PR mistakes with Amanda Mills.

Public relations is playing an ever increasing role in the business marketing mix.

With a surge of digital media options, businesses are using different media to get their message out. Some businesses take on the role of PR, others will hire in expertise. Either way, mistakes are being made.

Amanda Mills from Greenlight PR has been working in the industry for 20 years and in her own business for 10 years. She works with a range of small to large business clients she sees what businesses do well with PR and what they don’t. Here are the top five mistakes she sees most.


1. Not understanding PR and how it works


This is fairly common and understandable mistake. PR is a specialist area within marketing that involves raising awareness, building credibility, educating the market, brand awareness and management. Businesses that have received bad press use PR when they want to change the narrative. New businesses use PR to fast track credibility. A business that’s been operating 12 years has the credibility, whereas a business that’s just started out needs doesn’t, but PR can help them develop it.

Both PR and advertising can raise awareness, but PR can also assist businesses in educating their customers more effectively through articles and advertorials.

Many people are under the false impression that PR is a magic wand and can fix everything. But as Mills said: “PR is not going to fix a problem with the business or product.”

READ: A 5-step approach to doing PR for small business owners


2. Not having a budget


Often people think that PR is free and to a point, which is true.

You don’t pay for the space or airtime that you get in the media, but the PR does cost time (whether yours or someone else’s). Like any marketing, it’s an investment and hopefully will provide a return on that investment.

Not understanding how much to invest is a critical PR mistake to avoid as it could see you spending more time and money than necessary, or missing opportunities by not investing enough.

There’s no limit to how much PR you could do, so it helps to have a budget. Advising a consultant of your budget is helpful as they can then develop a strategy within your means.


3. Choosing the wrong agency


It helps to choose an agency that meets your needs and your budget. If you have a smaller budget or job then choosing a boutique agency may be best.

READ: What you need to know about PR for your business

It’s often helpful to choose an agency with industry specific experience. This will make it more cost effective for you as the appropriate media will be proactive and contact known agencies for stories, rather than the consultant spending time researching and building contacts.


4. Not understanding their audience


For PR to be effective, stories and messages need to meet the right audience at the right time.

If a business doesn’t understand their customers or their intended customers, it can make it difficult to set PR objectives and, ultimately, a strategy. The more businesses understand their customer’s buying behaviour, lifestyle choices, preferred media and demographics, the easier it is to target the right areas.


5. Not being ready for results


It’s hard to imagine that you wouldn’t be ready for success, but according to Mills this can be a common PR mistake that businesses make.

Some business owners think all they need do is engage someone for their PR and that’s ‘job done’. But you need to be ready when the PR kicks in.

READ: When good PR goes bad

Not being ready for an increase in calls, enquiries or sales to the business is possibly one of the biggest and most costly mistakes.

By not maximising the opportunities afforded to you by PR, you’ll not get return on your investment – you may even be generating bad PR for your business, which will cost you.

Let’s imagine that you managed to get an article in a newspaper, magazine or online. This raises awareness of your product or service and people want to know more. Now they’re trying to call, check out more information on your website or stopping by your shop for a look. But your website is out of date, your phone rings out or is engaged, enquiries go unanswered and you haven’t put enough staff on to cope with the increase in demand.

Your original aim was to leave a positive impression and instead customers aren’t having a positive experience. PR mission failed!

So if you’re thinking of ways to get your brand and your story in the public eye, PR is a great way of doing it. Just keep the above in mind to make sure you start off on the right track.

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