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Top 5 online PR mistakes to avoid at all costs

01 Jul 2013
By Corinne

High quality online PR is becoming increasingly valuable as customers become more internet savvy, spending larger amounts of time and money online.

The key to getting your brand message across to a large and receptive audience is in making sure the story you’ve created is genuinely newsworthy, and then letting the right people know about it.

But all to often, online PR falls on deaf (or worse – outraged) ears. There are plenty of pitfalls that businesses regularly trip up on when conducting PR campaigns online, here are the top five mistakes to avoid:

newspapers in a pile

1. Writing boring press releases

When creating a press release, consider what kind of story you would be interested in reading if you weren’t connected with your company.

Endlessly plugging your brand and services, without any valuable or interesting information connected with it, is unlikely to win you much coverage online. It’s important to fine-tune the content of your release so it presses the right buttons with the media and your consumers.

If you’re offering a new service, for example, you could conduct a survey which showed how much people need what you’re offering, and secure an attention-grabbing headline in the process.

If you’ve developed a new product, there might be some USP or aspect of that product which resonates with what’s going on in the news or celebrity culture – perhaps this could help generate a suitably intriguing headline.

2. Failing to distribute to the right places

Even the best PR ideas fall flat if the right people never get to see them. Online distribution services such a PRWeb and Vocus can get you exposure by making your story visible on Google News and on industry blogs and news sites, with the chance of journalists picking up on the story, too.

You could also sign up to a service like Response Source, which delivers journalist queries to your inbox, allowing you to contribute to relevant stories and get your brand mentioned in the process.

3. Lacking journalist connections

To really get your news out to the masses, you’ll need to build relationships with the right journalists. Think carefully about which journalists may have an interest in your industry, and make a beeline for them by email or on Twitter when you have something interesting and relevant to say.

Make yourself really useful to those journalists by giving them valuable and relevant information and insight and you’re likely to become one of their key industry contacts.

Just one industry contact can make all the difference to your online PR, but it’s even better if you have several.

4. Ignoring social media

If you’re engaging in online PR, ignore social media at your peril. Industry ‘influencers’ with a strong social following and an interest in your industry can make or break a PR campaign, and getting on the right side of these individuals is a sure fire route to success.

More generally speaking, social media is a PR person’s dream, allowing a number of routes to help get your message out and then track the response.

Make use of your carefully built networks on Facebook and Twitter to promote your news, then closely follow the response your news is receiving. You can use this information to inform future PR campaigns, nurture any budding brand advocates and explore any other emerging relationships.

5. Getting noticed… For the wrong reasons

With so much emphasis on getting your story noticed, it can be easy to forget how badly a PR campaign can go if it’s picked up for the wrong reasons.

Some simple rules for avoiding a cataclysmic PR disaster include sticking to positive news rather than negative, and steering clear of the temptation to react to world events which may have been upsetting to some people.

Always conduct a detailed ‘pre-mortem’ before publishing your news, to identify and iron out any potentially embarrassing mistakes or errors of judgement.

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