Halloween is my favorite holiday.
It embodies all of the things I love so dearly—the crisp fall season, hayrides, haunted houses, bonfires, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkins, obsessive use of the color orange (GO VOLS, beat BAMA this weekend!), dressing up in a costume, eating candy…and scaring people.
Even when it’s not Halloween and I’m not doing the scaring myself, as a PR pro, I get scared. With Halloween right around the corner, I thought it would be fun to list some of the things that truly scare me as a PR professional. For the sake of Halloween and my love for the Vols, I’m using orange to make my points a little clearer.
- Reading a press release with a buried lede. It would be great if you could get to the point.
- Getting a call from a reporter that your contact didn’t make the interview you set up. As a PR pro, we’re only as good as the stories we pitch and relationships we form with the media. So jeopardizing a media relationship with no-show interviewees is a pretty scary thought.
- Seeing an awesome story that you pitched publish or air…WITHOUT your client in it. Ouch, this one hurts. As a PR pro, we are always working to sell great stories. Often times, they’re a win for our client, but every once in awhile, be prepared to get left out.
- Reading a cover letter in which a job applicant admits she has no marketing or PR experience, but she just knows she’ll be good at it. Appreciate the confidence, but we don’t know you enough to trust your gut.
- BREAKING NEWS that isn’t yours and also kills your coverage. Pitching the East Coast during a snow storm gets you nowhere. TV coverage is never guaranteed so make sure your client knows what to expect when working with TV.
- Hearing that another company your client has been working with scooped your news coverage. PR pros should talk with their client to understand all parties involved in a news story. Strategizing with everyone ensures that all parties get the media nod they deserve.
- When a client wants to release news that hasn’t happened yet. We are just as excited to tell your story as you, but news isn’t news until it’s happened. On the flip side, if it happened a few months ago, it’s unfortunately not news anymore either.
- Hearing a reporter tell you they are doing an “investigative piece.” Here’s the time when your PR pro kicks it into full crisis management mode. Work with your PR team to strategize how to get in front of the story. And ALWAYS, always, tell the truth.
- When a website has a bazillion words of copy. Keep it short and sweet on the Web, folks.
- When someone asks me, “what’s a #hashtag?” My response: #magic.
- Hearing a job applicant say they want to be an event planner and that’s why they got into PR. Events and community outreach are only a minute part of being a public relations professional. If you have your heart set on event planning, there are some GREAT Nashville event planning firms you should talk with, as a Nashville PR agency may not be the best place for your career.
- When a client tells you they spoke with a reporter about a story…last week. We know it’s hard to train yourself to tell us everything that comes up, but keep in mind if you give us the heads up we can follow up with the reporter after your conversation to talk about how to make room in the story for you.
- Seeing a website that’s not mobile friendly. As of May 2013, 63% of adult cell phone owners use their phones to go online. It’s time to bring your site into the modern era…talk to us about creating a mobile site that will scare your competition because it’s so good.
- Someone saying there is no such thing as bad press. Yes, unfortunately there is but probably a lot less of it if you’re working closely with your PR team :)
- Someone pooh-poohing the value of an online story. An online story placed in an outlet with a high UVM (unique visitors per month) can be just as valuable and certainly more shareable than a print story.
- Learning that your client expects to be on national network TV show like Good Morning America or a national print publication like the Wall Street Journal when you first start working with them. Sometimes your client has an amazing story that could easily land them in the big leagues right off the bat. But the truth is, we strategically find a reporter in these publications that writes stories or produces segments on exactly what you do, and it can take months to cultivate that relationship and seal the deal. We want that big hit just as much as you do, and we’re always doing everything we can to make it happen…it just may take longer than a week.
- Learning Halloween was on a Thursday night. That isn’t exactly scary; it’s just cruel and unfair. To all the little kids out there trick or treating, I hope your parents are cool enough to let you stay up past your bedtime on a school night to enjoy the awesomeness that is Halloween…shout out to my parents who always made Halloween extremely fun. To the big kids out there debating on whether to venture out on a work night, I heard that Thursday is the new Friday…so don’t sweat it.
Here’s to everyone having a spooky good time this year!
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/45560282/