PR Campaigns Not Delivering? Do This to Fix It

When a single PR campaign misfires, there could be a number of different reasons. However, if your public relations efforts are consistently failing to bear fruit, one or more of the following common PR problems are the likely reason. Let’s review these common reasons for PR failure and what you can do to turn that breakdown into success. 

Vague Goals

You’ve seen those random, nonspecific posts on Facebook people call “Vaguebooking?” A user posts, but the message is incomplete and directionless. It’s clear they want some interaction, but what’s not clear, at least to others viewing the post, is how to respond. Some failing PR efforts follow a similar model.

One of the most common versions of this type of PR failure is launching a campaign to “just get coverage.” Sure, getting media coverage is a great goal, but it’s not a complete goal. Media is topical. People respond to an interact with topics of interest to them. So, instead of just trying to “get noticed by the media,” set clear and measurable goals with specific results in mind. Then build a release and target a media outlet based on those objectives.

Insufficient Metrics

If you don’t know how to measure your PR campaigns, you have no idea how to know how well they’re working. And, if it’s obvious they’re not working, but you don’t have the right metrics, you can’t determine what to tweak to fix the problem.

There’s an acronym in public relations called KPI. This stands for Key Performance Indicators. These metrics allow a company to track specific factors that determine the effectiveness of your PR campaign.

If you are not sure where to begin, some of the most fundamental KPI include:

  • What pitches were sent
  • Who responded
  • What pitches were published
  • When were they published
  • How the market responded (sales, contacts, interactions, etc.)

You may also want to log conversations with reporters or other media representatives. How many times did you contact them? Which contacts got responses, and which responses were the fastest?

Each of these metrics helps you build a winning PR campaign. List all your campaigns on a spreadsheet, and include all of these metrics and any others you want to track. Log your data and, at the end of your campaign, assess which strategies worked, which stories got traction, and which approaches earned the best or most response.

Bankrupt Narratives

If you want your story to make it out of your media contact’s inbox and into their story rotation, you need to give them something of value. Now, I get it, every bit of information about your business or brand has value to you. That’s fine, but the plain truth is, not everything about your brand is interesting or newsworthy to the media. If you want to know what would be, don’t assume, ask them.

Research the media outlets and contacts you want to target for your campaigns. Looks at the types of stories they like to run. Then look for reporters who like the kinds of stories you have to tell. Armed with this information, approach the media contacts you want to build rapport with, let them know you appreciate what they public – be specific here – and ask them the kinds of stories they may be interested in.

Once you have that information, go back and consider how your brand can meet their need. Did you get that? Look for ways that your brand can fill the hole your chosen media outlet is looking to fill. Don’t just give them content, solve their problem. Do this enough, and they will come looking for you when they need another story.

Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the Founder and Chairman of 5WPR, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 25 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America’s most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company’s growth, overseeing more than 275 professionals. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named “PR Agency of the Year” by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world’s most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine’s Most Influential New Yorker, a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider, and a recipient of Crain’s New York 2021 Most Notable in Marketing & PR. Torossian is known as one of the country’s foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and has authored two editions of his book, “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations,” which is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.

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