Top 5 How To Avoid A PR Howler

By Shelley Wyatt, Board Director, Clarion Communications

Earlier this week, it was reported that an American PR firm had been sacked by their biggest client because of angry Twitter comments – the tweet came from the agency’s founder, no less.

At exactly the same time on this side of the Atlantic, every PR professional felt a chill run up and down his or her spine while muttering something along the lines of ‘There but for the grace of God…’ under their breath.

So here’s a quick Top 5 list which every self-respecting PR should bear in mind – and if you disagree with any of it, don’t forget to give yourself a few minutes to cool down before you send me a tweet:

1. Don’t use ‘Bcc’

Group emailing a sell-in is increasingly likely to make journalists hit delete without even reading your pitch. ‘Bcc’ is a tempting time-saver, but always try to make it personal.

2. Research your audience

Journalists want to feel you’re familiar with their work and understand what they want; most have online profiles, so running a quick Twitter or Google search should give enough background to confidently approach them.

3. Pick up the Phone

Over-using email to contact clients and media should be closely managed; try to pick up the phone occasionally – it can save time, avoid confusion and help cement relationships.

4. Think before you Tweet

Social Media’s fast-moving nature can lead to blunders, so think before tweeting. Most agencies have social media guidelines to encourage best staff practice, so gen up and pause before posting.

5. Manage Client Expectations

We can’t guarantee we’re going to get three brand mentions (including image) on Page 3…so be honest and don’t over promise.  Ensure clients are aware that even a ‘dead cert’ story can be pulled at the last minute – and have a Plan B ready. The media landscape has never been more fragmented – or more exciting – so you’ll be sure to get coverage elsewhere.