PR Sucks Because You’re Doing It Wrong

PR Sucks Because You’re Doing It Wrong

It’s no secret that PR has a bad rap – and rightfully so. For the majority of companies, it’s a huge (note: colossal) waste of money and time. From spray-and-prey journalist outreach emails to over-the-top sales-y press releases, the PR industry is broken.


Where some folks see a mess-hits-the-fan disaster, I see an opportunity to outrun and outsmart the crowd.


Talking smack is the easy way out. But that’s the precise problem that broke PR in the first place – a whole lot of talking and a lot less doing. PR isn’t noise. It’s a high-yield, low-cost marketing channel. Like anything else in business, you need to outsmart the BS to make it work.


Instead of rolling your eyes at PR, redefine what makes it suck. Here’s what to do:


1. Stop Glamorizing Press Releases


There are some companies that send press releases every time that they do anything. These are sales pitches cloaked as news, and journalists can smell the inauthenticity from miles away.


When you finally have something newsworthy to share? Nobody’s listening.


Press releases are just fine for distributing information, but don’t spam people. Be selective in who receives the information you’re sending, and send a personalized note. Automation may be efficient, but it’s infinitely weaker than a personal rapport.


Remember that there’s a real person on the other side of the computer screen. People want stories, not boring press releases.


2. Chill Out — Put the Megaphone Down


Stop blasting journalists with automated media messages. They’re extremely pressed for time, under tight deadlines, and on the hunt for stories – not generic sales pitches.


Journalists don’t want to be sold. They want relationships with interesting people and reliable sources. Find out who’s writing about your industry. Get to know these writers. Listen more than you talk, and don’t be an obnoxious vulture. If there isn’t a story opportunity now, there may be one later.


3. Assume that Nobody Cares


Far too often, PR people will act like they’re king of the world. Nothing will annoy a journalist more. A little humility will go a long way – focus on the substance of your story instead of the president of your company’s resume.


The more compelling you are, the more journalists will care. Be emotional. Share your weaknesses. Represent the humanity behind your brand. Convince your readers to care as much as you do.


4. Stop Vomiting Essays


Journalists aren’t always at the computer. They’re on the go – being productive on their iPhones and tablets. They’re more likely to read your pitches when your messages are easy to digest.


Lead with your core value proposition, and eliminate the fluff. Write out your pitch, trim it in half, and then trim it in half again. If you have more details to include, host files on a tool like Dropbox and send links, not attachments.


Final Thoughts: Get Your Story Straight


Here is where media training can help. The ability to craft and perfect a compelling story is priceless. Media training can help you stay focused on the core story that’s driving your brand.


Transparency is a startup’s secret weapon. Honesty means ownership. It means we’re human, and it’s an amazing story to tell. Journalists can smell murky waters from miles away. That’s their job.


What motivates your team to come to work every day? What’s your vision? How is your product a game changer, and what inspires your people to build it? Humanity is the heart of PR. Use it wisely.

Heather Carson


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