10 Tips for successful PR
Utilize research and advance planning to target your message to the proper journalistic veneus. Presenting the findings of bird watching experts in a golf magazine would show a lack of interest and understanding of the target market, people only want information that is relevant to them.
News is a perishable good - only a geniune 'news story' awakens interest. An old story has no chance of being published. After all, media consumers don't want to see, hear or read things they know already.
The right moment to send a press release to the publisher is decisive. Familiarity with different media time frames and production schedules is essential to efficient presswork. Media operators don't like being disturbed by telephone calls during the final frantic production phase.
PR work is a confidence-building task. As such, it seeks out contact and dialogue with journalists. The first step towards a long and rewarding relationship with media operators is to abide by agreements and accept their independent decisions.
Knowing the subject
Journalists want partners who know what they are talking about. Persuasive arguments require sound know-how. Unfamiliarity with the issue at hand results in embarrassing mistakes that might sneak into a journalist's report.
Long sentences, foreign words and complicated grammatical constructions are guaranteed to kill interest. Press releases must always use easy to understand and accessible language. Keep it short and simple!
Use personalised forms of address
E-Mails sent to journalists personally are more effective than mass mailings addressed to "Dear Editor". Only urgent information - such as appointment changes, cancellations etc. - should be mass-mailed - and only provided the recipients' addresses are not shown in the "To:" or "Cc:" (carbon copy) boxes at the top of the e-mail. That violates data protection and is also unacceptable for practical reasons as well. It is preferable to list addresses under "Bcc:" (blind carbon copy correspondence / anonymous correspondence). E-Mails must also include the name of a contact person, a contact telephone number and a complete address, including the sender's E-Mail, either at the top or bottom of the message. A real person must correspond to a given address who can be contacted promptly.
PR work is based on building relationships with media operators, so keeping their contact information current, and research new contacts are of vital importance. Care is also needed in name searches because of the rapid turnover of editorial staff. Internal distributors will therefore be prepared to ensure that each piece of information reaches the desired recipient. Messages delivered to the wrong address are not read. Better still, obtain the approval of the recipient beforehand.
Every day editorial staffs receive hundreds of press releases. If you want your's read, treat journalists' nerves with care - avoid unnecessary, repetitive information. Don't forget: quality before quantity. Press releases, sent out in just the right number, that are well-written and contain key information, are more effective than constant dispatches. On the other hand, this is no reason for persistent silence either. Successful link-ups can only be achieved by those who regularly (but not daily or still yet several times a week!) remind journalists of their existence.
The news and media never stop. If you want to provide a good PR service you will have to work just as rapidly to keep up the pace. A news item can already be considered old because transmission is delayed by only one hour. For that reason, media operators need immediate and competent answers to their enquiries - at the latest, within 24 hours.
7 Deadly Sins of PR
Failure to Observe Journalistic Independence
Freedom of the media has even been written into the constitutions of western democracies. Anyone who believes that they have to exert influence on journalists by contacting the journalists' superiors or by withdrawing advertising revenue, throws the baby out with the bath-water. Not only are they a long term irritant; they also make themselves a laughing-stock.
Pestering Journalists With Telephone Calls
Constantly pestering editorial staff with questions such as "Have you received our press release?" or "Do you need more information?" is bad behaviour and puts a strain on the nerves of media operators. It also destroys your credibility. The worst approach is to claim that you have something even more important to tell them, but that it isn't contained in the dispatch. That is the ultimate way to destroy any journalistic goodwill.
Publishing False Information
Manipulating the facts or simply publishing false information is a sure way to bring about the ruin of your client in the first place and then of yourself. Anyone attempting to use the media to publish false information will be punished. George Lucas wasn't the only one who knew that the Empire Strikes Back!
Making Promises to Clients
There is no such thing as direct access to subservient journalists. Anyone who promises his client pride of place on a popular TV talk show or in the feature article in the top daily newspaper, will probably not even make two lines in a small circulation local rag.
Lack of commitment
Clients need consultantcy: whether a specific PR measure is effective in achieving a goal or not is something the PR consultant and not the client, has to know. Bad advice wastes money, offers no solutions and sends the client running head-long into disaster.
Keeping Journalists Out
No journalist should get the feeling that he is less important than his / her colleague who works for a mass circulation newspaper or magazine. First of all, even Pulitzer Prize Winners began on a small scale. Secondly, all publications have their fans - and as a result journalists are opinion leaders and spokesmen in potentailly crucial target groups. Thirdly, this sort of behaviour is quite simply, horribly arrogant.
Spelling Mistakes in Press Releases
If you don't pay attention to presentation and ignore spelling rules, you put yourself out of the game. Mistakes and poor spelling are embarrassing and show a lack of writing skills. Substantive errors are the quickest way to project an image of incompetence.