|Top mistakes public relations practitioners make and how to avoid them|
Brendan Seery has been in the communication business for more than 30 years and he understands and shares the frustrations that public relations professionals face, which are often due to errors they make. With these errors in mind, Seery presented the second Public Relation Consultant’s Chapter (PRCC) networking breakfast session on 23 April 2013 at the PRISA Head Office in Randburg on the topic ‘Top mistakes public relations practitioners make and how to avoid them’.
Coming from a journalistic background, Seery was able to offer attendees some invaluable information which included the importance of building relationships with editors and journalists; learning to “think like a journalist” to uncover stories within your organisation or client; and the damage that can be caused by not responding to media.
Seery explained the importance of ensuring that public relations professionals know and understand what the brand they are working for is all about; and to take ownership of the brand as it is their role to defend the brands reputation at all costs. Seery stated that if you do not agree with the brand, for any reason, it is better to walk away from it.
He also spoke about the recent obsession with one’s image on social media, and consoled attendees by assuring that one bad tweet or Facebook post will not ruin your or your company’s reputation, rather it is the lack of responding to journalists and not commenting on issues pertaining to your company that does. Seery suggests that if your company has received negative or untrue coverage in a publication, then it is best to respond to that publication only, and not to every medium available. If your side of the story is newsworthy, other publications will pick up on it and contact you directly.
To ensure your press release is published, you need to understand your target media and ensure you pitch your story correctly. Seery suggests that public relations professionals find out what is relevant to the journalist they are targeting, as well as what their interests are, and then construct a story accordingly. One can keep the same subject and theme but ensure that each story is made relevant to the publication it is being sent to.
One last bit of valuable information that Seery provided was to build up a portfolio for yourself. This will express your worth and value to a company. Be sure to include your successes and case studies in your portfolio. It will demonstrate to a company that, when public relations is done well and focuses on what a publication finds relevant, the coverage will be invaluable.
Written by Esther Labuschagne, Cambial Communications