First and foremost, let’s accept the fact that we all make mistakes, and that for the most part, PR people do a great job of meeting client needs and media needs.
Although, mistakes are made on occasion, and they can make the person on the other side of an email pitch or phone call want to pull their hair out. And that alone can hurt credibility.
One of my side projects is running a fashion blog, which means I receive pitches from PR folks on a routine basis. Many of the pitches are great, but there are some that make me shake my head in disgust and think, “You have to be kidding me!” And before going forward, let me just say that I’m a PR guy at heart.
It’s interesting being on both sides of the PR line, and why I’ve had a little fun creating a quick list of five things PR people do to drive me crazy.
- I LOVE getting an email that starts something like, “Jessica, how’s it going?”. My name is Ryan. That’s the classic copy-and-paste-and-forget-to-change-the-name mistake. This is a good reason to follow the tip of not filling out the “To” section in an email until after you’ve proofread the message.
- When I’m sent glamorous photos of models wearing clothes. My site only features photographs of “normalish” people, and it’s very clear that we don’t use many, if any, promo shots. Knowing your audience is key. Always.
- Nobody likes it when someone overstays their welcome, right? Some PR folks are phenomenal with knowing when to give and to take, but others — they seem like they only want to take. That’s a horrible way to build a lasting relationship.
- Who decided that sending JPG emails and invites was a great idea? You have to make things easy on your audience. Allow them to easily copy and paste information if they are interested in your product or event. Not doing so wastes people’s time, opens the door for typos and is just bad service.
- Free shipping. Seriously? You want me to do a post on X client just to share that they are offering free shipping for a limited time? This falls in the “act as a client advisor” column. You are constantly creating and growing relationships with media/bloggers, and it’s important that they know you are sending quality information. If the pitch is weak (and this one is really weak), make that known and try to package something that’s more informative.
These are just five things that quickly came to mind, and I’m sure we could easily expand the list.
This list isn’t meant to pick on anyone, or the industry, because as we both know, no one is perfect, and we’ve all made these mistakes. (Number 1 makes your heart instantly sink when you realize it’s happened!)
One of my first bosses, and now a mentor, said to me very early on in my career, “Make every pitch and write every release with the mindset that you are talking to/sending it to the New York Times.” That statement has stuck with me over the years, and now I hope it also sticks with you.