Investigating the Trainwreck: The Top 5 Worst Public Relations Strategies

By: KCD PR Editorial Staff

Sometimes, PR and marketing campaigns go terribly wrong. While public relations can be one of the most effective ways of communicating your value to the marketplace, you could be doing yourself more harm than good if you don’t have a well-thought-out, integrated strategy. For educational purposes only (and definitely not to point and laugh), we’ve identified five key “strategic mishaps” that you should avoid to keep your brand’s reputation intact:

“Just a press release is good enough.”

 A common rookie move: Pushing out press releases for the sake of ”getting it out there,” especially when news isn’t newsworthy or without supplemental media relations plans. Press release distribution service bills will pile up, your message won’t reach your target audience, and even if it does get picked up, you won’t be ready to address any feedback – or fallout.

Instead, develop a well-rounded strategy that includes tools like press releases but places a greater focus on holistic media relations, press outreach, social media marketing, ongoing content development, crisis communications plans, media-trained key company spokespeople, etc.  For example, check out The Washington Post’s coverage of “Tribune Publishing, now ‘tronc,’ issues worst press release in the history of journalism,” and do the opposite. It’s OK, tronc. It’s a New Year so you get a fresh start (…except everything lives on the Internet forever).

“I’ll just wing my media interview.”

We’re begging you; please don’t walk into your next interview unprepared. Don’t wag your tongue at your interviewer on national TV (we’re looking at you, Gary Johnson). It’s doesn’t matter if it’s a live broadcast interview or a discussion over the phone with your local paper, preparation is key to successfully communicating your message. Preparation not only guarantees that you weave key company messaging into your answers, it also minimizes awkwardness, makes you sound more confident, and fosters a comfortable conversation with the interviewer, which will come through in the final product.

“The best place for damage control is Twitter.”

Crisis management and damage control can be a tricky business, and the rule of thumb is to maximize your control of the message. Twitter is a popular crisis management platform because of its immediacy, but if offers NO control. Before you succumb to the urge to tweet, make sure you develop a thoughtful crisis communications response, distribute the primary message to media and your own website, and try to communicate directly with important clients, customers and consumers. Then you’re ready to unleash the hounds on Twitter. Case in point: Sea World may have had the worst Twitter damage control strategy in the last decade, as its highly publicized promotional #AskSeaWorld crowdsourced thread was taken over by protesters. Spoiler alert: It’s a killer whale of a campaign.

“Our website from 2009 is just fine.”

Google’s ever-evolving search algorithm means that having a mobile-friendly website is no longer an option, it’s a necessity. If your site isn’t up-to-date to include mobile optimization, it will become increasingly difficult for your business to appear on the first page of search engine results. It’s well-known that the financial services industry is lagging in website optimization. Make it your New Year’s resolution to update your website ASAP. Just for fun, here’s a Buzzfeed list you don’t want to score: “20 Hilariously Terrible Corporate Websites.”

“It doesn’t matter if my digital marketing is outdated.”

Now that you’ve redesigned your website, you simply must promote it. PR and marketing efforts include influencer marketing, inbound marketing and media relations. Good news: digital marketing in 2017 is going to be better, faster, stronger (cue Kanye) than ever before. AI, analytics, audio, video, social, and mobile should all be on your radar.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and DON’T do these things! God speed.

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