8 Outdated PR Tactics That Will Actually Hurt Your Strategy

Posted by Wendy Marx

8 Outdated PR Tactics That Will Actually Hurt Your Strategy

Previously, we've talked about the best PR tactics and strategies to get your brand some media love -- but sadly, not all tactics are created equal. Some tactics are outdated and could potentially harm your brand. 

What are these tactics and why should you avoid them? Let's delve into some examples of PR strategies and tactics that should have been retired long ago. 

But first, let's go over some of the timeless tactics that we use within our B2B PR agency. There are 5 that are absolutely essential to top public relations firms.

The 5 Timeless Tactics in PR

1. Establish a PR Strategy

Determine your goals. This could be anything from brand awareness to reputation management, to increased product purchases. Outline the types of campaigns you want to create and the steps to take to reach your goals. 

Creating a strategy puts everyone on the same page in terms of the best PR campaign tactics and decision-making. 

2. Be Prepared

If a PR opportunity comes your way, you want to be ready to handle it professionally. Determine out of the gate who will be your spokesperson, what kinds of things he or she should focus on in media interviews, and which journalists you'd ideally like to cover your story.

Prepare your spokesperson so he or she can ace an interview -- presenting your company's story while giving a reporter useful nuggets.

3. Give Yourself Enough Time

Make sure you have enough time to give each campaign the attention it deserves. Consider for a moment that some publications have longer lead times. Prepare your news release and campaign details with another time to meet deadlines. A good PR person will know an outlet's schedule or can easily check.

Give yourself some wiggle room should plans fall through -- the journalist you wanted isn't available, there's a hiccup in the event or some other unforeseen circumstance. 

4. Be Flexible And Able To Turn on A Dime

Things can change in a blink of an eye. A competitor releases a similar product ahead of yours. A meme has taken over the Internet that you can respond to. A news event relates to your business. Do you have a good monitoring system to stay on top of trends? Google alerts at minimum. A social media monitoring tool to sort through the tweet tsunami. Be ready to strike when an opportunity hits and adjust what you're doing expeditiously.  

5. Monitor Each Campaign Carefully

Whether it's a big news story or an influencer marketing campaign, measurement is essential to proving ROI and seeing the results of your hard work. Track key metrics that will help you adjust your tactics during a campaign.  This is your check on what's working, what's not and will help you be smarter for future campaigns. 

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Let's now look at examples of PR strategies and tactics that are better left buried -- and what you should do instead.

8 Obsolete PR Tactics and Strategies That Should Be Shown the Door

1. Spamming Journalists

Outdated PR Tactics (1)

This is sometimes referred to as the "spray and pray" method -- sending out your pitch to everyone imaginable hoping you'll get even one response.

Your news might be the most exciting in your brand's history, but if you mass email it to journalists, it sends the wrong message. And yes, journalists can often tell when an email has been sent to a batch of other journalists. It puts a bad taste in their mouths and could bar your story from getting the media attention it deserves.

Instead of sending out an email to every journalist whose information you can find, do your research and choose journalists who will be the best fit for your story. Research what articles they've written in the past and how those relate to your story. 

Then sit down and make your email personal. State why a journalist should give a hoot about your story, even referencing the reporter's relevant, past work. Show why readers will care about your news. This type of email adds a personal touch that will set your news apart from others -- and paves the way for a future relationship with that journalist.

2. Not Using Visuals and Video

Outdated PR Tactics (1)-1Content creation is at the heart of B2B inbound marketing and public relations. And while articles and blog posts are great forms of content, these are just one tiny piece of the puzzle.

If PR pros truly want to reach their audience and motivate them with the best PR campaigns and B2B inbound marketing, then visual content needs to be part of the game plan.

Consider for a moment that posts with visuals receive 650% higher engagement rates than text-only posts. And posts with videos attract 3X more links than those without video.

What conclusion do these numbers point to? The absolute necessity of including visuals as part of your PR and marketing strategies.

3. Outdated Press Kits

We're in the digital age of journalism -- and your press kit should reflect this. This means you need to make everything available electronically. For starters, all of your images -- headshots, infographics, product shots, and logos -- should be available for easy download.

Video is becoming an essential player within PR, so using one in your press kit could sweeten the deal. Links to past media coverage could also provide some needed context for journalists to do their best.

Make it easy for journalists to pick up your materials and run with a story. Include a link to it in Dropbox or another media hub that will allow them to easily access it.

4. Ignoring Storytelling

Storytelling is an essential part of your public relations strategy. Many make the mistake of thinking their news is newsworthy simply because it's about their brand. Truth be told, journalists need to see it in a larger context to make sure it will appeal to their audience.

There are a few ways you can incorporate storytelling into your next media release. For example, you could...

  • Relate stories of specific customers who were helped by your product or service.
  • Discuss certain industry trends or challenges and how your brand addresses these.
  • Show them how you do what you do through the use of images or video.

The bottom line is to make it personal. Include a human element that draws people in and helps them relate to your overall story.

5. Not Balancing Out Your Strategy

Outdated PR Tactics-1Unfortunately, there are still many who believe that public relations is all about press releases. Oh, how misguided this is! And, more to the point, it is potentially damaging to your brand.

If you limit yourself to one form of media -- such as media placements -- you are figuratively burying your head in the sand. The PESO model, which integrates paid, earned, shared, and owned media, exists to establish a balanced online marketing and PR strategy.

So, instead of simply blasting out press releases in order to gain the attention of news outlets, try to vary your approach. This includes such important tactics as:

Such tactics in PR help you to reach more people and actively establish your brand's presence.

6. Using a Wire Service

While wire services were the industry's gold standard a few decades ago, they've lost some of their value in the decades since. More than that, they could actually be harming your strategy. For example, many modern journalists view news from wire services as just plain spammy. While you might still send a release via a wire service so it gets in the search engines, don't count on it getting you media coverage or SEO juice. Releases have "no follow" links per Google's dictum.

Besides a release, consider other ways to get the word out. For example, social media can often achieve better results at a lower price point. Journalists often look for stories on social media networks like Twitter using industry hashtags. 

Another method of getting your story into the hands of the right people is to email them directly. While we've mentioned this before, it can't be overstated. When done selectively and methodically, email pitches are a great way to get your story the attention it deserves.

Lastly, blog about it. Highlight your story -- don't just regurgitate a press release -- on your blog. And if you do land coverage, blog about that as well. 

7. Only Aiming for Big-Name News Outlets

Outdated PR Tactics

Yes, publications such as The New York Times and Wall Street Journal carry weight. And we are proud to have placed clients in both outlets. But the danger is that by only aiming for these big-shot news outlets, you ignore the folks who might really care about your news. 

Ask any B2B PR agency and they will tell you the advantages of niche publications and smaller media outlets. You can attract more niche audiences with the help of smaller publications and platforms -- plus, these often come with a loyal following that may be more interested in your story. Reach out to trade publications, blogs, and YouTube channels that fit within your niche.

Another perk to being published in a smaller outlet is that it could be picked up by a larger media outlet down the road. Often, when larger outlets see the success of a story in a smaller arena, they are more likely to want it for themselves.

8. Resisting Technology

Sometimes technology is painted in a negative light -- like a big, bad monster that is coming to making our jobs obsolete. But the reality is that technology is poised to make our jobs easier.

Take artificial intelligence as an example. Many people cringe when they hear this term, thinking of all the potential negative implications on their job. But the reality is that AI is poised to help you do what you do better. Many PR pros use AI to build media lists, monitor social media, and predict media trends, which leaves them free to pursue other PR strategies.

Bottom line? PR pros need to move out of the horse-and-buggy era of public relations and into the modern technological age if they hope to beat their competitors. Use PR tools and technologies that will enhance your strategy.

In Review...

5 Outdated PR Tactics That Need to Be Forgotten (1)

Don't let old tactics ruin your B2B PR strategy. Weed these outdated strategies out of your online marketing and PR tactics list and ensure your tactics always stay current and applicable.

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Oct 24, 2018

Wendy Marx

Wendy Marx is the founder and president of Marx Communications, a boutique inbound marketing and public relations agency. An award-winning B2B public relations pro, she has helped many small- & medium-sized firms (SMBs) become well-known industry brands and transform their businesses, going from Anonymity to Industry Icon™.

Her business articles have appeared in The New York Times, InformationWeek, Inc., Advertising Age, & Fast Company, among other outlets. 

View all posts by Wendy Marx