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PR Misconceptions and How to Make It Work for Your Company

Working in PR for over a decade, I still see how many people misunderstand it. 

Press coverage should be a part of any promo campaign. It gives you and your company visibility, credibility, and kudos. But there are quite a few misconceptions about how this process works. I talked to dozens of founders to clarify how they understand PR, and most of them made glaring assumptions and mistakes. 

In this article, I want to share some tips on what you should know before developing your PR campaign.

So here are the most common misconceptions.

You will get immediate results

Many founders wait for immediate results after a single PR article. They think that it will bring them tons of leads right away, and business will start growing instantly. But PR is rather a marathon than a sprint, and results take time. Get ready with your PR campaign 2-3 months before launching your product. It will help you create a buzz around it.

Keep in mind that good journalists will need up to a week of advance notice to be able to read your pitch, accept the embargo date (the date you’ve decided the news can be published; don’t forget to include a time and time zone), read the release, send questions, wait for your quotable answers, write the article, and schedule it. Don’t forget that. Unless you’re Google or Apple, you will not succeed if you send a pitch on the same day the news is supposed to go out.

PR equals sales

PR is an investment, but not sales. Marketing is what drives sales and company growth. Effective communications and the right brand image are what PR should help with. It has to work for you and your company’s reputation; it is about relationships and not sales. 

If your PR Manager makes your sales department’s life easier, builds an excellent reputation for the company, and grows clients’ and partners’ awareness – that one does a good job! PR campaigns help generate leads at the beginning of the sales funnel, so it is crucial to measure the results.

I see a lot of people who think that PR and content marketing are the same, too. Your website copy, blog, and social media posts are entirely different from press coverage and have other objectives. 

Content on your blog has to engage your target audience and be useful for those interested in your industry. Your website copy is what your customers need to know about you, your products, and your services. PR lets more people know about your offerings, such as product launches, new services, funding, and significant partnerships.

Your company/product is unique

It is always exciting to launch a new company or a product. The whole world is going round and round in the founder’s eyes; nerves, hard work, and expectations drive them forward. 

Where should this news be published? Of course, on Forbes, VentureBeat, Grit Daily, and Techcrunch! And journalists, of course, can’t wait to cover it! Wrong. It is a mistake to think that writers are sitting and waiting for you to hit them with your story so that they can write an article. Journalists don’t owe you anything, and they are not your marketing or content team. 

You need to remember that it has to be a mutually beneficial situation. The press is always happy to cover a great story. All you need to do is to be grateful and create a win-win situation. Sometimes in PR, you make so much effort, and there is no significant change, but sometimes it takes to make just one turn, and suddenly all media writes about your project.

You can do PR by yourself

Well, if you have a ton of free time, probably, you can. But you should know how to pitch, who to contact, and what’s trending. Think like a journalist. Why should he/she write about you? Gather all the information about your company and a press kit. Minimize the work for the journalists, and get your story published.

By sending the wrong angle to the wrong journalist, you cut the connection with the whole publication, probably, forever. Do your research, understand what you are sending and to whom, make it clear, keep it polite, and personalize the message. 

However, even if you did everything right, not every journalist will agree to cover your story, and that’s ok. It depends on the publication they work at, their workload, and their interest in the topic. The average tier one journalist receives between 100-400 pitches a day, so it’s a competitive space. Make a list of the media that cover stories like yours, pitch to those journalists only (after some introductory messages), and keep going.

Any major publication will do

Another misconception about PR is that it is vital to get coverage in any significant publication no matter what. Well, unless your product is a new fancy rocket, you’d better think of niche publications that focus on the area of your company, especially if it’s an early-stage startup. Just keep a hold of your sky-high ambitions and start with smaller publications covering your product’s beat.

How PR changed in 2020 and what can you expect in 2021

  • Empathy is becoming even more important in communications. In this way, you can get more attention and better results. Empathy improves customers’ loyalty. Brands need to demonstrate they are trustworthy and reliable, ensuring a long-term connection with their customers
  • Brands should support each other and create collaborations to succeed and help others grow in these uncertain times
  • You should be open and honest about your company, products, and processes to catch the world’s attention and be trustworthy. Natural, real content is what valuable right now
  • Content is changing. Video is the number one format nowadays. Storytelling is still popular, as before. Podcasts, TikTok, and virtual events are a new normal in the world wide web.
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