Tag Archives: pr mistakes

6 Ways to Avoid PR Blunders on Social Media

3-Lessons-To-Learn-From-Big-Brands-and-Their-Social-Media-MistakesNo matter how prepared you think you are, mistakes are bound to happen. As a business, you want to reduce the amount of negative attention you receive as much as possible.  

Whether you say something you regret in the heat of the moment or someone misinterprets your message, what you say can potentially lead you into hot water. PR blunders will happen, the important thing is how well you react to them.

To limit the amount of PR fires you are putting out, keep these tips in mind.

Be clever, not crude

In whatever message you are sending out, it’s important to remember your audience. Some companies, such as Wendy’s, have gone viral on social media by becoming known for their sarcastic responses to customers. Wendy’s has become successful in this strategy because they figured out a way to connect with millennials on Twitter in a playful, entertaining way. The secret behind Wendy’s Twitter success lies in the fact that they are clever with their responses and are in an industry where their behavior on Twitter is more acceptable. Keep in mind that this strategy has to be used very carefully as it can quickly become offensive or insulting. There is a fine line between being clever versus crude (or inappropriate), so it is important to pay attention to your word choice when crafting messages. Before you send out a message, ask yourself and your peers if a reasonable person in your industry would be offended by your words.

Avoid hashtag disasters

Hashtags can be a great asset to networking or gaining awareness for your business. They can also be a recipe for a PR mishap. A “bashtag” is when a hashtag becomes a platform for sharing negative information about a company. It starts with a well-intentioned social media campaign, but for some reason or another quickly backfires. An example of this is when McDonald’s launched a campaign using the hashtag “#McDStories”. The intention of the campaign was for customers to share lighthearted stories about their memories of McDonald’s. The impact of this campaign quickly went south, however, when people started sharing McDonald’s horror stories instead. Before you start a social media campaign, weigh your options for how things could go awry. A failed campaign can do much more harm to your business than a successful one can do good.

Create guidelines

Making sure everyone is on the same page about the tone and mission of the message your company is pushing is crucial. Consistency allows for your brand to build a reputation and become better established in your audience’s collective memory. Creating guidelines serves as a “cheat sheet” for employees to understand the game plan for how to react and how to craft messages. Writing out your strategy makes it easier to follow, and it makes your team more accountable for following it. Establishing rules early on helps avoid future disasters because you already have a plan in place.

Monitor activity

You never know what people will say on social media, so don’t forget to regularly monitor your accounts. Be on the lookout for negative comments on your posts so that you can react accordingly. You should also monitor what people are saying about your business through reviews sites like Yelp, or on their own personal accounts. Be sure that you have included a process for responding to negative messages in a professional manner.

Double check everything

It’s easy for mistakes to slip through the cracks, so make sure that multiple sets of eyes take a look at the content you’re putting out in social media. Double or triple check everything that you do to ensure that it is as close to perfect as possible. You don’t want to accidentally let a typo slip through. While typos normally just illustrate a careless mistake, you never know when your typo could accidentally turn a normal word into something offensive. You can’t completely erase a mistake, so it’s important to have a solid system in place for editing content.
About Lauren Usrey: Lauren is a student at the University of Texas at Austin and a marketing communications intern at Manzer Communications. She supports clients with social media, blogging and tech PR activities. Manzer Communications has offices in Austin, Denver and Houston and provides digital marketing and PR services for tech companies seeking rapid, sustained growth. Some of the services provided include content marketing, social media strategy and ad buys, email marketing, and media relations.

Top 8 reasons why PR firms fail

IMG_0788Every now and then I hear about a business that hired a PR firm and got ‘nothing’ for the money they spent. I hate hearing that because I think for the most part my colleagues in the world of PR do their utmost to help their clients.

Still, a bad client experience can happen to the best firms despite their best intentions. But mistakes are not always committed exclusively by the PR firm. On occasion some of the fault rests with the client, or, more often than not, with both parties.

Here are some reasons why things go amiss between well-intentioned PR firms and their clients:

Unrealistic expectations: sometimes clients want to get into publications like the Wall Street Journal or TV news outlets like the Today show. Only a very, very small number of companies can ever get into such big-name national news outlets. Failure to set realistic expectations at the start of an engagement will prime the pump of client disappointment.

Over promising: some PR firms may over promise what they can deliver. If you hear a lot of promises and guarantees that you will get tons of media placements, especially from a salesperson at the PR firm, then run in the other direction. Most PR professionals will do their best to set realistic expectations and make sure you understand that PR is about ‘earned media,’ which is not something that can be guaranteed and is subject to the vagaries of a fast-changing news industry.

High price: some clients think that if they spend more money on a larger PR firm with more resources then they will get better results. Unfortunately, that assumption is often misguided. For instance, many startups in Silicon Valley spend outrageous sums of money for PR firms when they could get similar results at a much lower cost by hiring a qualified tech PR firm from another market.

Poor communication: for a PR campaign to be successful there must be open lines of communication. A PR firm is only as good as the client allows it to be. In other words, clients who meet often with a PR firm to brainstorm new ideas are bound to find more opportunities to get valuable news mentions.

Contractual accountability: PR firms must be held accountable, but so should clients. Often when a PR firm fails to deliver the goods, it’s partly attributable to a lack of accountability on one or both sides of the transaction. The client contract should address the roles of both client and PR firm and spell out expectations and deliverables through each phase of the engagement.

Junior talent: some PR firms assign junior talent to their accounts, which is okay as long as they are properly supervised and coached by senior members of the firm. What sometimes happens in larger PR firms is that smaller accounts (even ones paying $10,000/month!) tend to get less attention from the higher-ups and that dearth of experience and talent negatively impacts the outcome of the engagement.

Expertise: while I am a firm believer in the adaptability of PR professionals to most any industry or communications task, there may be a situation where a lack of industry expertise becomes the fulcrum for failure. A PR firm might excel at getting wearable tech startups plenty of news but fall flat on its face working with a B2B, Internet-of-Things startup in the solar industry. Another may be great at getting placements in lifestyle magazines but miss the mark when it comes to managing communications during a crisis facing a company.

References: a final way PR firms may end up failing in an engagement is due to a client not checking on references. When a PR firm wants to win a new account it will say and do just about anything to come out on top. A client can enhance its chances for a positive outcome by talking with a PR firm’s other clients and quiz the firm’s management team on specifics related to prior engagements. If something doesn’t feel right then it’s better to address it immediately rather than wait until you are half way through an engagement and wondering why the whole project timeline went sideways.

Bottom-line, it’s really up to both parties to work together and make a PR engagement a success. If an engagement fails to produce the results you expected, do more than point the finger – dig a little deeper to understand the true cause in order to get it right the next time around.

About Dave Manzer: Dave Manzer founded an Austin tech startup PR firm for startups and emerging-growth businesses in 2009. Dave Manzer specializes in highly integrated PR & marketing strategies that help companies in technology, healthcare, consumer and professional services reach their goals in brand awareness and revenue growth. To contact Dave about the PR over Coffee blog, feel free to tweet him at @davemanzer or email him at dave(@)davemanzer.com.

10 Common Small Business PR Mistakes

imagesSmall businesses and PR are like Oil & Vinegar. They can be at odds, tasting acidic and unctuous without accomplishing anything special; or they can be vigorously combined and result in a unique product that pleases the palate and makes the mealtime more memorable.

Okay, call me a hopeless foodie with that comparison – but it’s accurate. Small business PR can help small businesses in many surprising ways, but it can also fall short of its true potential and leave a bitter taste in the mouth.

Here are some common mistakes small businesses make when contemplating and executing PR:

  1. Fail to plan for success: perhaps the most common mistake made, and one that can be rectified with just a little strategic planning. Some small businesses approach PR like it’s a one-and-done event rather than an ongoing component of a marketing strategy.
  2. Give up too easily: sometimes when small businesses do decide to use PR and they don’t see any immediate results (e.g., an article about them in the local newspaper), they may dismiss PR as ineffective or just not applicable to their particular business.
  3. Fail to experiment: when at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. Many small businesses fail to tinker with PR until they find the right formula for success.
  4. Ignore or miss current trends: sometimes the best opportunities for media coverage are trending in today’s news. Because many small businesses are so busy, they often miss golden opportunities to promote themselves to the local (or even national) news media.
  5. Forgetting social media: while social media is not the same as PR, failing to do both is a critical error. So many businesses miss out on integrating a PR message with messages on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  6. Confuse marketing with PR: a lot of business owners do their own marketing, which means they may occasionally confuse marketing and PR when it comes time to write a news release and communicate with reporters.
  7. Think PR is only about a press release: thanks in part to online distribution websites like PRWeb, the press release (or news release as it’s often called by marketers) has become a popular way to communicate with customers and prospects – NOT, however, to the news media.
  8. Unrealistic expectations: think you should be on Dr. Phil, CNN or the Wall Street Journal? Thinks again.
  9. Missing the singles: many business owners fail to make the easy “singles” that can get them incremental media coverage and instead swing for the fences only to strike out each time.
  10. Neglect the trades & blogs: business owners also overlook a potential goldmine of referrals that can come from getting mentioned in industry trades or blogs. These specialized vertical media outlets are often hungry to learn about new innovations and news in general, so ignore them at your own peril.

So enough bashing on small businesses! The good news is that they are only mistakes, and we can all learn from our mistakes, right?

It’s time to take a new, fresh look at PR and start owning it like we do at PR over Coffee everyday! Your business will never look the same if you do.

Got some good suggestions you want to share? Leave a comment below or feel free to visit the PR Over Coffee Facebook page and leave your thoughts (don’t forget to like us)!

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