Top Ten Mistakes of a PR Professional

imagesHaving spent few years in blogging and writing for magazines and periodicals, I have known of many PR professionals who get in touch on behalf of their clients. Recently I met at guy from the same industry who set me thinking if he is at all in a right profession. It is not that other PR professionals I have met earlier are perfect, but this guy was epitome of everything which a good PR professional should not be.

Here’s my take on top ten mistakes that PR professionals make most often:

Trying to tell the media what to do: You are a smart guy, please give that benefit of doubt to me too. Telling media how the story should look like or what type of questions to be asked is just not in. There is a fine balance between subtle hinting and directing. Please learn that.

Doing no research on the brand: Inability to answer common questions pertaining to brand, tells how deeply someone is involved into client servicing. This guy knew nothing.

Exceeding his/her territory: Now this one is interesting. We were in a well known Hotel and there were few food lapses which the ‘smart team’ of hotel made out from our expressions. This PR guy comes and tells us to focus on the brand in question and not to mention anything about the restaurant services or food. Interestingly, earlier he focussed on what we should write, and now he was also trying to tell us what we should not. Next time, I am sure, he will give us the complete write-up for publishing.

Gifting etiquettes: There is no need to gift anything to the media, especially bloggers. Still if there is a small token to be given from brand, please give it to everyone present.

Practise your gifting pitch: A simple line like ‘thank you for your time and here is a small token from the brand” helps rather than “We had to give you something, so here it is”. By now you know how smart is this gentlemen who inspired me to write this post.

Email Reminders: Reminders are good through email/SMS, but if they come every hour then something is wrong. Instead if anything is so urgent and it cannot wait, please pick up the phone and speak.

Disconnected/ Devoid of emotions: At times things will not go your way. Please learn to empathise with the person. Instead of coming and asking media to refrain from reporting, ask them the concerns. Ask them how they could have done it better. Promise them that the points have been noted and thank them for the inputs. Then, politely check if some of the things could be avoided in the report. If you think, the entire story will be changed to your whims and fancies, you are day-dreaming, my friend.

Wrong Communication Pitch: We were sent a communication that the wine-pairing session will be done with specific dishes. Those dishes were changed without any reason. And wine-pairing was nothing more than – please sip your free wine and enjoy.

Trying to buy the media: By media, I mean bloggers in this case. Media is into business of selling and hence can be bought, not bloggers. Exceptions on both ends do exist.

arms_akimboBody Language: I am not an expert, but given my management background I can easily make out how well someone is receiving inputs. So while all the above happened, we decided to give a candid feedback. Smile on the lips said that he is taking the inputs sportingly, but the hands which were akimbo and at times on hips, meant he is getting impatient and not interested.

Follow-up call: Last but not the least, please follow up post the event on any requirement or thank the individual for their post. It is important to build long term relations even though the last post may not have appealed the client for various reasons. This guy was an extreme, because he tries to avoid me on another event where we met 2 days later.

I wish him prudence, wisdom and sanity to make a right career decision. In the meanwhile let’s learn from him.

–         Pawan Soni

  1. I dont find a ‘like’ option ! Yes, I did like this thought provoking article.
    Many a times we experience this kind of attitude which makes us decide not to go there again.

  2. Good point you’ve raised Pawan. There’s a current tendency to take bloggers for granted. It’s but natural. Blogging is a new platform and bloggers are just starting to be recognised. I guess it’ll take some time for PR agencies to acknowledge the presence of blogging and bloggers. I’m sure editors / food writers of newspapers / magazines are treated far more carefully by the same PR agencies.

    1. Hi Mohit…I feel otherwise. Bloggers are being paid far more attention by the PR agencies, than required. Blogging is supposed to be more personal and does not require PR intervention. The number of invites Indian Food Freak receives through PR channel is crazy. There was a time PR was busy buying traditional media, which gave birth to blogging as a more authentic channel. Now PR seems to be busy influencing this mode too. If this goes on for long, bloggers will lose the confidence and trust of readers, and perhaps something new will come up.

  3. Very well written article Pawan…I am sure you must be dealing with variety of people everyday :)..I completely agree with you in terms of bloggers and social media gaining immense popularity..I also am sure that the trust and confidence of readers in bloggers is definitely for good due to blogs being more personal n interactive..In fact we PR people are in love with bloggers 🙂

  4. Ha ha ha. Hope the said PR person read this post! And maybe a few copies should be sent to all others