10 Do’s and Don’ts of Public Relations

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Wouldn’t it be handy if you had a list of rules to help you with PR? Well, here you go!

We thought we’d make it easier for you to get to grips with public relations, so we put together this handy list of do’s and don’ts to help you develop your strategy and manage journalist relationships.

DO: Work on your company’s message
The first thing you have to do when coming up with a PR strategy is to decide what message you want to convey to your targeted audience. How do you want your company to be perceived by the general public? What do you want to communicate to them? Start here as it will help you get a clearer picture of the next steps to take.

DON’T: Assume the media will write about you
Even if you have the most amazing product, have a revolutionary idea and think your company will revolutionize the way we live it is not a done deal journalists will write about it. Humility comes a long way when dealing with the media and building a reputation is something that takes time and a lot of work.

DO: Reach out to journalists
Journalists are always on the lookout for stories and are used to being approached with pitches and leads on new companies and products, so you don’t need to be shy. The main preferred method of contact is usually email. Be cordial and succinct when writing to a member of the media for the first time, and do your research, it is this first contact that will potentially lead to a good relationship with the journalist.

DON’T: Stalk media professionals and bombard them with messages
After you reach out for the first time, wait a few days until you follow up. The first follow up is usually best done by email. Check if they are comfortable with telephone calls before calling. Also: contact them only through their professional channels unless you already have a previous relationship with them. Reaching out through social media is fine, but don’t overdo it. Don’t use LinkedIn or Facebook - if you think their email inbox is bad….these are not better.

DO: Send tailored pitches to journalists
After you identify which media outlets you want to target, research them and the journalist. Find out what topics they cover and what kind of stories they usually publish. Try to think what would be the best angle to pitch your story to each journalist/media outlet you want to contact. Once you figure this out, send a tailored pitch, making it clear you know their publication and telling why your pitch is worth their audience’s attention.

DON’T: Approach the media without researching about them
Journalists receive hundreds of pitches every day and it can be really frustrating to get emails that have nothing to do with the issues and topics they cover. It can be a huge embarrassment to you and your brand.

DO: Keep up-to-date with the news in your industry
The best way to know how to reach out to journalists is to read what they are writing about. Check what kind of stories the media you’d like to see covering your brand is publishing. This will be of great service to you when you create tailored pitches because you will have a better understanding of what sparks their interest.

DON’T: Take rejection personally
Getting coverage from the media is not an easy task and it is something that can hinder your initial enthusiasm. Take every rejection as a learning experience to improve. Try to get feedback and incorporate that into the next pitch you send. Don’t be rude or push back too hard. Overtime you can turn a no into a yes, but if you’re rude, forget about it!

DO: Assume that everything you say is on the record
One thing to be careful when being in touch with journalists is to be mindful of what you say. Everything is always on the record unless said otherwise, so pay attention before disclosing any information you don’t want to see published in the media.

DON’T: Lie. Ever.
Nothing can damage your company’s image more than being perceived as an untrustworthy brand. Aim to be honest and committed to the truth. Being caught in a lie is something not all companies can survive.

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* This post was originally published in our newsletter The Communications Workshop. Sign up to get more free tips on communications and marketing here!