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PR Blunders

Person getting hit with a wave at a beach

Sometimes the easiest way to learn something is by seeing it done badly. Think of all those fashion disaster lists – no one remembers good 80’s fashion but everyone remembers Madonna wannabes!  And cringes.

PR Mistakes - Eighties fashionBad public relations can get really ugly, really fast. So in the spirit of “What Not To Wear”, let’s take a look at the “Don’t do it!” side of PR.

  1. Bad spelling/poor grammar. It doesn’t get any more basic than this. You may have a fantastic message but if there are spelling blunders or grammatical errors in your material, the message you’re sending is “I can’t be bothered to do this right.” Your credibility just took a hit. This is why we have spellcheck, folks. 
 (And good editors!)
  2. What “audience?” Let’s say you’re a credit card company and want to do a campaign targeted at university-aged young adults. If you’re not using social media to do it, you’re wasting your money. Know your audience, do the research. Where do they live online? What are their spending habits and priorities? Ask yourself every possible question and get the answers. Look at the market research and then come up with a campaign that’s going to show up where your target audience will be.
  3. Media?? They’re just hacks. Journalists are a helpful bunch of people but you’re going to tick them off if you think they’ll run your advertising for you. Absolutely, advertising has a role to play, but don’t make the mistake of thinking your local journalist will do it for you for free. In your perfectly-spelled and engaging press release, make sure you have a compelling hook – something a journalist can craft a story around –  and above all, don’t tell them how newsworthy you are. They’re going to decide that for themselves. More on this subject to come!
  4. Fact checking. Um, what? Can you imagine anything worse than standing in front of an audience and getting it wrong? It’s the stuff of nightmares. Make sure you’ve got the facts on your side. This takes time, research and planning. With the internet at everyone’s fingertips, everyone’s an expert. Don’t leave yourself exposed – after all, at the heart of every PR campaign is credibility. Don’t compromise yours.
  5. Close enough is good enough. You can’t really run effective PR anymore without an online presence. However, whatever you’ve got online had better work. Remember the “Obamacare” debacle? Make sure your website works and can handle the traffic that hopefully will be headed its way. The last thing you want to do is frustrate your audience – the audience you set out to entice to your product, business or cause – by insufficient support or long wait times. Make sure you have an efficient feedback loop and can answer questions effectively and thoroughly. Plan for success!

So there you have it – a quick “greatest goofs” list. Fortunately, most of these are completely avoidable with the right team on your side. Public relations is both an art and a science and we realize that it can be tricky to navigate the waters by yourself. We’ve had a lot of experience and are always willing spend the time to get your message right. If you’ve got a question, an issue or something you think we might be able to help you with, get in touch! We’d love to hear from you.

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About the Author - Tara Klager
As a two-time Ontario Newspaper Award winning writer and with four consecutive nominations, I bring 16 years of editorial experience from across Canada. Collaborative by nature, I love working as a part of team Tenato!