This is inspired by a post over on PR Daily naming the 20 things a PR pro should know how to do.
This is my take on things PR pros should know NOT to do. A few obvious ones, but sometimes they’re the ones most easily forgotten.
Anything to add? Make your suggestions in the comments box….
- Phone journalists when you know they’re on deadline
- Be unprepared for questions when doing a sell in
- Miss a deadline
- Spam journalists with the same release, with no thoughts of what they actually want
- Fail to get interesting, exciting (and high res!) images to accompany stories
- Delete negative comments
- Focus on numbers, not engagement
- Not bother monitoring conversation
- Share nothing but links to your own website and offers
- Not familiarise yourself with analysis tools
- Fail to set clear targets, expectations and evaluation methods
- Not work out a clear approval process
- Do whatever your client asks even if you know it’s a waste of their time and money
- Not push for opinions and viewpoints
- Ignore situations if they go wrong, mistakes happen – it’s how you deal with them that count
- Churn out news releases with no strategy or reason behind them
- Get coverage for coverage’s sake
- Fail to make sure press, advertising, social media activity etc is joined up
- Not make the time to read the newspapers/blogs/magazines
- Not hold regular planning and brainstorming meetings
I read with interest a blog post on PR Moment which cites meetings as a waste of time.
Although the article, written by Hacked Off Flack, is tongue in cheek to some extent (at least I hope so – he states falling asleep as a way to keep your meetings short!) I can’t help but come back with a rebuttal.
Having started a new job two weeks ago, building client relationships is one of the most important things I need to do in order to effectively manage my client’s accounts. I am passionate that this can’t be done without regular face-to-face contact.
But I won’t disagree completely with Hacked Off Flack – I have been in many meetings which have proven to be a complete waste of time, turning into lengthy debates rather than short, sharp decision making sessions.
With that in mind, here some tips to ensure your meetings remain productive.
1). It’s all about the agenda
Draft a realistic agenda before the meeting and issue it to all parties for additions and reference (about a week before if possible). This will make sure that everyone is in agreement on what needs to be discussed, and will hopefully stop anything from being missed off, or tangents from taking over. Try and plan how long you think each item will last and decide your meeting length around this. Most importantly – stick to it and steer people back to the agenda if necessary.
2). Someone take notes
And by this I don’t mean illegible scribble (which is what I’m often guilty of!) but proper, detailed notes of decisions and actions. Note taking is actually a pretty hard skill to master – being able to filter the bullshit and capture the stuff that really matters should not be underestimated.
3). Clarify actions at the end of each meeting
How many times have you left a meeting still not knowing what you’re supposed to be doing, or wondering if your client is really clear about what you need them to do? At the end of the meeting have your dedicated note taker clarify each person’s actions, quickly and succinctly.
4). Circulate a contact report
Issue a contact report to all parties after the meeting, confirming in writing what has been agreed. In my view a written record is vital to ensure that everyone is clear on what needs to be achieved by when. It’s also a good tool to look back on when you’re nearing the next meeting, to make sure that everything has been actioned.
5). Think about who should attend
Most PROs and agencies charge per hour or day, and meetings can quickly eat into a retainer. Think carefully about who should be in the meeting – do you really need an account director, manager and two account executives? Only have those who will truly benefit from the meeting, both from your team and the client’s perspective.
6). Always schedule an end time
If you don’t have an end time you’re asking for trouble! Keep an eye on the time and give the odd countdown to remind people; e.g.: “We’ve got 15 minutes left, shall we move onto the next item?”
7). Get into a routine
Decide how often you need to have client meetings; monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, whatever. But whatever you choose – stick to it. It’s when meetings get cancelled and you try and roll six months worth into one meeting that things get a bit hectic! The last item on your agenda should always be ‘date of the next meeting’.
8). Get biscuits (or cookies for my American readers)
Sugar makes every meeting easier to bear. Trust me, it’s a well known fact.
A client has an event coming up and you’ve been tasked with publicising it.
What’s your approach?
- A brief paragraph outlining the event sent to a few key journalists for their diary pages?
- A press release with event details and a quote from your client sent to every journalist in a 100 mile radius?
- OR a full-page feature in the relevant section of a publication which is in the event’s immediate catchment area?
It doesn’t take a genius to work out what the best option is. And the good thing is – if you’re holding an event, then you most likely already have ample material to make a feature happen.
After all, if you’re planning on keeping people’s attention for an afternoon, or even a full day, then your topic must be fairly interesting!
So, how can you make this approach work for you?
You already have your topic:
If you’re holding an event, then you already have your content. If it’s an advice seminar then draft a feature which tackles the main issues, and then offer hints and tips on how to overcome obstacles. If it’s a debate then it’s even better – do a pro and con piece with first person pieces from each spokesperson.
A client recently sponsored a debate on a controversial rural business funding programme. The area’s main newspaper was approached and a full-page ‘for’ and ‘against’ article appeared. It featured arguments from the key-note speakers along with a quote from the client, and event details. This was pitched to the rural section editor.
Make it even more local:
News is about people – and a feature is even more likely to be commissioned if you can show real life local examples.
A client was offering a free event, in two different locations, on the benefits of working from home. By finding a relevant case study of home-based businesses in each area and using them to illustrate the topics which would be covered in the event, two features were secured – one in each target area. This was pitched direct to the business editors.
Don’t be biased:
Perhaps the topic is there but your client can’t add enough weight to make it stand as a topic on its own? Involve third parties. Not only does this give the journalist a better and less biased article, but it also gives you an opportunity to hunt out a potential new business lead.
A firm of solicitors was offering free advice clinics to families whose child was suffering from a health condition. By partnering with the condition’s main national charity and including a case study of a real local family who had been affected, a double page feature was secured in the paper in the solicitor’s key catchment area. By pitching it properly to the journalist, a legal fact box was included complete with clinic details, website and phone number. This was pitched to the health and lifestyle editor.
To some extent the event is what makes the piece newsworthy, but this can sometimes be a tenuous link, even with case studies and advice. What statistics can you find which back up your points? Make sure they’re from a reputable source and as localised as possible. Contact local industry bodies if necessary.
Choose your publication and section:
Where is the event being held, and how much of a pull will it really have? In my view, most events, unless they are huge industry affairs only pull in delegates from a 20 mile radius of the venue. Target the publication with the biggest and most relevant circulation – and preferably one with a strong online presence. Make sure you know the publication – if it’s a business event approach the business editor, a health story approach the health editor etc.
Pitch it properly:
This isn’t a hit send on an email and keep your fingers crossed job. Phone the editor responsible for the section you feel the story is most suitable for and explain who you are and what the feature will include – explain that it will be an exclusive for them and that it will be completely localised.
If they’re interested, explain the structure you’d like the article to take – do they have any concerns or suggestions on this? How many words would they like? What date can they publish and when would they like the copy? What about photos? You can hopefully provide some but are they happy to take one of the case study if necessary?
After the conversation, if they’ve said yes to the feature, send a synopsis outlining the agreed publication date, the deadline date, the word count, who will be providing the photography and also detailing, in bullet points, what will be included and the structure it will take. Make sure you follow this when it comes to drafting the article so you give the journalist exactly what was agreed.
Deliver it on time:
You’ve already shown that you understand what their readers want. Don’t undo all of that hard work by not delivering it on time. Do whatever it takes to get what you’ve promised to the journalist on time.
You’ve delivered the copy on time, the feature has appeared, you’ve got a fantastic piece of coverage for your client, and hopefully the publication has replicated it online to.
Next up – say thank you!
A quick, one line email to the journalist to say thanks will go a long way. Not only have you shown the ability to really deliver targeted content suitable to their readers, but manners too!
Hopefully, by following these steps you’ll not only get some great results for your clients, but also build strong relationships with journalists and demonstrate that you are a trusted and reliable source.
What do you think – have you tried this approach? How has it worked for you?
Let’s face it – a lot of business news can be pretty boring.
So what? There’s been a new acquisition, or a new board member, or an increase in turnover.
You need something to make your story stand out – and a decent photograph could be just the ticket. By commissioning a bespoke photoshoot for your story you could end up doubling your coverage.
Here are some hints to help make it work for you:
1). Use the photo wisely
Not every story needs a professional photograph – whatever shots you have to hand may be enough, or indeed no photo at all. But there are times when a photo is the story. Think about your story visually – the story itself might not be that strong, but a photo could make it get snapped up by journalists. If you can persuade your client to spend that little bit extra (time and money) on a photoshoot it can really make a difference.
2). Be clever with your client
Some stories might not be directly linked to your client, but a photo can make sure they get a mention. For example, I recently did a press release on a law firm who helped a woman – who was the first person in the UK to use thermal imaging on pets – with the t’s and c’s on her website. The story was the woman, not the law firm – but by organising a photoshoot with her and the solicitor (not to mention a very cute Huskie dog), it was guaranteed that the law firm would get a mention in any coverage. And they did – the picture came out great and the story was used in every major business publication in the south west and numerous national veterinary titles.
3). Have respect for the photographer
We have an idea in our head of the sort of shots we need from a shoot, and a decent photographer should be able to get these. But, in the same way we work as consultants to our clients, photographers work as consultants to us. If they have an idea, or think that your idea wont work, discuss it and work through it together – use their expertise to get the best results.
4). Brief your client
A lot of people make the mistake of thinking a photoshoot is a few quick snaps on a digital camera. If you haven’t briefed your client fully and then a bossy (they’re usually the best) photographer turns up with flashes, backdrops and props, barking at them to smile more, then it can be a recipe for disaster. Even if it’s a simple head shot you’re after, ask your client to clear an hour in their diary and remind them to dress smartly (you may think this will be obvious – but trust me, it isn’t to everyone!)
5). Ask the newsdesk
Worried you might shell out £150 (approx $230) for a photoshoot and then the story still won’t get picked up? Call the newsdesk at the publication you’d most like to get coverage in and ask if it would be of interest if you provided professional photographs. It’s even worth asking if they would like to take photos themselves. What with all the redundancies in the past year or so it’s not as likely as it once, was but I’ve still hit gold a few times with this approach – especially in regional newspapers.
6). Do you even need a press release?
Perhaps you don’t even need to bother writing a story to go along with images. Great exposure can be got through an image alone. Without sounding too corny ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’ and all that. Send pictures with a simple photo caption and short paragraph outlining the story – this works especially well for the ‘social’ pages in magazines.
7). It’s not just for press
Don’t think of the photo as a one hit wonder. It can be used on websites, uploaded onto social media sites, in marketing collateral and even potentially in future press material. It’s always worth checking the terms with your photographer though to make sure you have exclusive and unfettered usage.
8). Please! No more head and shoulders!
If I see one more ‘man in a suit’ staring back and me from the business pages I think I might scream. Of course these shots are sometimes necessary but try and make them a bit more exciting – if you have funky artwork in your office try and pose in front of that. Perhaps you work in stunning scenery, or on the waterfront? Get outside and have your photo taken. Anything apart from that stark white background.
Sounds great right?
Especially considering they are retailing at a massive £499 in normal stores – most of which are already sold out.
The site had just 200 of the handsets on sale, but when the deal opened at 9.30am this morning 5 million users attempted to log in to get their hands on the cut price phone.
Subsequently the site crashed – resulting in problem number one.
This lead to an outburst on Twitter, with many consumers assuming the deal was fake – becoming problem number two.
But, as Real Business reports it’s not the deal, or either of those problems that is under scrutiny – it’s the way in which the site went about advertising the deal in the first place.
Consumers’ main gripe is that they had to pre-register their interest for the iPhone 4 by signing up to Groupola’s daily alerts. This is the main problem. If Groupola had just held it as a regular daily deal (where you don’t have to pre-register for Groupola’s marketing emails), I’m fairly confident the backlash would have been less strong. Don’t forget that Groupola claims to have received over five million hits this morning – so that’s a lot of people signing up to Groupola’s daily email alerts.
Fair point I suppose (though if the site hadn’t frozen would the backlash have happened at all?)
To be honest I feel a bit bad for Groupola – it was a great deal, but one where supply would always be far outweighed by demand. But they were very honest with the terms – there would be a limited amount available and to have a chance you had to sign up to the email alerts.
A two minute online form and a daily email (which you can unsubscribe from easily) seems to me a very small price to pay for the chance to win, and I’m sure the 200 lucky winners aren’t complaining.
But it does create an interesting question.
When does a good marketing ploy become bad customer service?
MPs are to be asked to agree to an earlier sitting of the House of Commons next Tuesday, so the emergency Budget can be held at the earlier time of 12.30pm, according to the BBC.
This is great news for business PRs and journalists alike.
I moved to the B2B team from consumer about three months ago and was lucky (!) enough to experience my first taste of budget day fairly quickly after starting.
Usually the budget is announced at 3.30pm and having to juggle numerous clients and get their comments together in time for close of play can be a nightmare.
This move to 12.30pm should be a huge relief for both PR’s and business journalists in the region – giving more time to source good quotes, case studies and reactions.
The only thing left to find out is are the reactions from businesses in the region going to be good or bad?
With previous threats of ‘painful cuts’ from the new coalition government , and George Osborne set to announce additional public spending cuts or tax increases of £34bn a year, I have a feeling it might be the latter.