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The “Ides of March” Are Here – Beware These Common PR Pitfalls

By March 12, 2018July 24th, 2020Public Relations

Ah, the Ides of March are upon us. The date of March 15 carries a doomsday connotation, ever since Shakespeare penned the phrase, “Beware the ides of March,” in his classic play Julius Caesar.

While we needn’t fear this date, in the spirit of the “Ides of March,” let’s look at some common PR pitfalls that can doom your efforts.

1. Failing to plan ahead

For PR to be at its most effective, careful planning should be part of the process.

For example, one of the things we learn early on in media relations is how far ahead some publications plan their editorial content. Want to be in holiday issues of popular magazines? Better start pitching EARLY, say in July.

Is your brand exhibiting at the industry’s biggest trade show? Get some plans in place for how to maximize its presence by coordinating with the show organizers on hosting press meetings, speaking at the event or sponsoring some of the activities.

2. Failing to test your concept

You have a theme in mind for your next campaign. You think it’s miraculous. But, have you tested it with anyone else?

Think of some of the fails over the past year or so that have resulted from failing to properly vet a concept. Pepsi’s tone-deaf ad with Kendall Jenner. Adidas’s email campaign making light of the Boston Marathon bombing. Dove’s multiple failed attempts, first with an ad about body image and then one where a black woman turns herself white (they’ve ended up offending women instead of making them feel celebrated).

Be sure to float your idea to other colleagues, and, if it’s a major campaign, you may even need to think about having a focus group in to give feedback.

And make sure to test it with various age groups. What may resonate with a millennial audience may not with an older demographic.

3. Failing to consider an omnichannel approach

We know that PR is no longer just about issuing a press release. Now, we have to consider multiple channels to get the word out.

Are you thinking about social media? Have you factored in content marketing? What about paying for some branded content or social media ads to amp up some of your earned media efforts?

PR teams need to work closely with other digital marketing arms of the brand to ensure that all bases are covered. Don’t overlook this and expect your campaign to be as successful as it could’ve been.

 4. Failing to target the right media

We often see reporters complaining about PR pitches (just check out @SmugJourno any day of the week for examples). One of their top complaints is that public relations people send them pitches that aren’t relevant.

It’s easy to avoid doing this. Just do some research. Figure out which industries, which publications and which reporters you really want to target, then pursue those with a laser focus. Don’t send out a mass email to hundreds of journalists, just hoping for a hit.

You can always issue a press release on a wire service if you want to get it out widely, but you’re pitching efforts would be better focused on the reporters that are the best fit.

5. Failing to measure your results

There’s an old saying, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Now, you may be wondering, “What do trees have to do with my PR campaign?” I’ll tell you.

If you want to be able to show how your efforts added value to your client or employer, you need to measure what you’re doing. This may be easier said than done, but if you’re not starting to consider how to do it, you should.

Tools like Critical Mention can help you show what your public relations endeavors resulted in. How many outlets picked up your story? How much traffic did those hits drive to your web site?

There are many ways to measure, depending on what you want to find out. Just be sure to consider this step before you proceed with any of your PR campaigns.

What might you add to this list, PR pros? Can you think of ways to avoid some of these common public relations pitfalls?

With some forethought and careful planning, you can manage to avoid mistakes with your PR efforts during the Ides of March – or any time of year.


By Michelle Garrett, Garrett Public Relations

You’ll find Michelle Garrett at the intersection of PR, content marketing and social media. As a public relations consultant, content writer, blogger and speaker, Michelle’s articles and advice have been featured in publications including Entrepreneur, Forbes, Ragan’s PR Daily and Spin Sucks. She was named a Top 100 PR Influencer by Onalytica and sits on the advisory council of the National Organization of American Women in Public Relations (Women in PR USA™).

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