As we near Halloween, one of my favorite holidays, here are six PR “horrors” to be on the lookout for:
- Your pitch may not be read—or even opened: No matter how much time you spend researching, interviewing and writing your pitch, PR peeps have no idea if the email will be opened or read. Reporters can receive 100 email pitches/day, and the “horrific” reality is, if yours just doesn’t fit the bill due to poor timing, it may never be seen. Take this week for example. If you were trying to pitch a health or travel-related story this week, good luck, unless it was somehow tied to Ebola.
- You don’t know if the story will appear—or when—or what it will say: When I speak on PR, I always emphasize that there are no guarantees. There are no assurances if the pitch will be read, if the reporter will write a story, and if you make that far, when (sometimes even if!) it will appear. There are times when the reporter has completed an interview with your client, but the story never appears…hmmm…now that’s “horrifying”!
- Relationships with reporters can be fleeting: Just when you think you’ve established a relationship with a reporter who’ll be around a while, he or she departs, leaving you to start all over again with his/her replacement. Yes, this happens—sometimes a reporter you have a good rapport with moves on, so you have to figure out how to move forward. It’s a “horrific” concept, but it happens now more than ever, as newsrooms shrink and publications fold.
- Your client wants you to write a press release about how what they had for lunch: Well, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but you get the point: Not everything a company does is newsworthy. News items must be chosen with care or reporters may tune you out or not take you seriously—and that would be a “horror” story! It can be a challenge to convey this to clients, but if you offer an alternative to issuing a press release, that can soften the blow. Perhaps it’s more of a fit for a blog post or, in some cases, a site banner or some other form of more traditional marketing or advertising. For example, if they’re having a sale, that’s not press release material.
- The PR biz can be a bit up and down: For the consultants among us, there are periods of time when you may not be sure when your next client or project will come through. Although this would be “horrific” for anyone, this is the reason to work as much as you can when the projects are flowing and save for those times when budgets are tighter. After being in business for myself for 15 years, I’ve definitely seen some higher—and lower—points. As long as you’re smart about planning ahead, you just ride them out and keep going!
- Office politics that make our jobs “horrifying”: Again for consultants, you never know what type of political atmosphere you’re walking into when you start working with a new client. The trick here is to stay out of “horrific” office politics as much as possible. Focus on the work at hand and ignore any politically charged vibes you may pick up on. Don’t get involved in gossip or any of that nonsense. After all, isn’t this one of the very reasons you left the corporate world to start your own consulting practice?!