Spinning it Right – Dos and Don’ts of PR
French-Polish film director, producer, writer and actor Roman Polanski once said, “I did not have a reputation to defend.”
While building a good reputation can take years, anything can tarnish it in only a matter of minutes. We all have reputations to defend, and they’re not just limited to personal reputations. For PR professionals, the stakes are even higher. Besides our own agency’s reputation, we’re also responsible for our clients!
PR professionals are considered skilled publicists, and as “reputation protectors,” we are trained to be able to present a company or an individual in the best light possible, without bending the truth – even a small slip can trigger a media disaster.
Here, we’ve laid out a few things to do and to avoid in PR:
1. DO get to know and understand your clients, their products and their target audience. This is key to crafting the right pitches in the right tone and voice. It also helps you position your clients as credible sources of specialized information in their respective fields, building their positive reputation as you go along.
2. DON’T send your pitches/press releases to the wrong person/department or worse, to the wrong publication! Sending irrelevant information is one thing, sending it to the wrong department can result in a missed opportunity which unfortunately builds a negative reputation instead of a positive one. Not everyone is kind enough to help you ‘forward’ the message you sent to the appropriate person/department. Always prepare and check your media list ahead of time, making sure you have up-to-date names and contact information of the right journalists and publications.
3. DON’T use too much technical jargon – unless you’re submitting a piece for a targeted audience. And even then, using simple language not only enhances an article’s readability, it might attract new readers, developing new-found or further interest to the topic. The understanding of a subject matter is not dependent upon the number of jargon terms you use. In fact, it depends more on how well the information was presented.
4. DO check your submissions! And when checking once isn’t enough – double or triple check them. Print them out to read if you must. Or get a pair of fresh eyes to look it over for you. Besides fact-checking for accuracy, you should make it a common practice to proof-read and edit. A press release that is full of typos, or an article that contains factual and grammatical errors can be very displeasing to any reader.
5. DON’T delay when a request is being made! It doesn’t matter who made the request, or how big/small it is – it can come from your clients themselves, or from a journalist – get to them in a timely manner. If you need extra time to fulfill the request, express it. Waiting till the last minute can make you look irresponsible and undependable.
6. DO keep yourself informed with the news. You could be missing out on valuable information if you limit yourself to just client related industry news. Make better decisions and spot threats and opportunities early on by expanding your scope to include general news, which can give you a competitive edge.
Although PR professionals are invited to events and functions of the high society, it’s not all glamour all the time. PR pros are required to possess excellent communication skills (written and verbal), on top of having effective multitasking, management, organisational and planning skills. Despite the complexities, a career in public relations can be one of the most informative and rewarding – making PR pros mini-experts in various industries.
By Fiza Johari, PR Associate @ Corporate Media Services