A commandment is defined as a divine rule. If you want to be a devout public relations professional, follow these 10 PR commandments in 2020.
Thou shalt spell check PR materials. Let pitch notes, press releases, client reports, blog stories, speeches, video scripts and so on sit overnight. Proofread it again in the morning or have someone else look at it. Sometimes editors will share an error-filled pitch or press release over social media to showcase poor communication that they have received.
Thou shalt keep thy PR message brief. Pitches more than 250 words might be hard for a top tier writer to comprehend. Some writers receive 400+ email pitches a day. Get to your point concisely.
Thou shalt surprise thy journalist. When you write a press release, ask yourself, did you include something new, interesting or surprising? Did you explain how it would improve someone’s life or improve a business process?
Thou shalt have a PR coverage goal. When you set out to garner attention for a company, concept or product, set a success bar. How much attention is considered successful? For example, your goal could be one feature print story, two TV news spots and five million impressions. A tool like Meltwater could help.
Thou shalt not annoy an editor with too much follow up. Too many follow up messages might get you blacklisted by a writer. Use logic when following up. Instead of asking, did you receive the pitch note, ask something else like, are you back from holiday? Or, how was the trade show?
Thou shalt not abuse a mobile phone number. When a writer gives you their mobile phone number, don’t call it unless the situation is urgent. Typically people now can receive an email or direct social media message pretty quickly.
Thou shalt read a recent story by the writer before pitching. Read a recent story by the journalist before reaching out. If you don’t see any stories published in the past couple of years, they may not be worth your time. Maybe they took a job in PR, which is common these days. The exception is someone who edits but doesn’t have bylines. But lately it seems that editors publish as well.
Thou shalt not pitch via public Twitter profile. Journalists like scoops. They are not likely to discuss a solid story idea over their Twitter account for the competition to see. Some read direct messages but to send them a message they have to be following you. So it helps to have a quality Twitter profile and messages.
Thou shalt listen to what the writer wants. If a writer wants to only talk to customers and not the CEO, don’t keep offering interviews with the CEO.
Thou shalt say, “no” and add “try this instead.” When the lead marketing executive demands that you issue a press release on a drab, me-too, follow-on product, don’t be a yes man or woman. Offer a better idea like production of a video featuring a happy customer of the first product. Or write a pitch featuring a happy customer and success story: offer the customer as an interview source to a favorite writer. Mention the new product briefly as an aside.
Save the in-depth new product description for direct communications with customers and prospects and/or the right social media channels.
Boy praying photo: Shutterstock
Michelle McIntyre, an award-winning IBM vet and blogger is the president of Michelle McIntyre Communications LLC, a tech PR consulting firm in the Silicon Valley. McIntyre has served on several nonprofit boards and was named VLAB Volunteer of the Year in 2017 for her marketing and blogging efforts. @FromMichelle on Twitter