The Fifteen Most Common Publicity Mistakes Businesses Make
By Pam Lontos
business owner, you probably know that publicity is important to
your success. But many businesses (and maybe you’re one of them)
make crucial mistakes in their publicity campaigns. While some of
the mistakes are more detrimental than others, the actual costs can
example, saying the wrong thing to a reporter may only cost you a
quote in a national magazine. But in advertising dollars, that quote
could have been worth hundreds. And you never really know who would
have read the interview. Maybe a reporter for USA Today or
maybe Oprah’s producer (or maybe even Oprah herself). Plus, what
about all the time, money, and effort you spent in getting that
reporter on the phone?
true; everyone makes mistakes. By being aware of the more common
ones, at least you can take action to avoid them. If you want to
make the most of every publicity opportunity that comes your way,
consider the following mistakes that businesses commonly make in
their publicity campaigns:
1. Thinking hundreds of customers will walk through their
door from one hit: Fame and name recognition take time and
repetition to build. In fact, a person will need to see your name
and logo around six or seven times before they actually remember it.
So regardless of what you’ve heard, there’s no such thing as an
2. Not being unique in their approach: No one wants to
hear the same old message over and over again. So develop a hook, or
unique angle that sets your business apart from others. For example,
if you own a restaurant, consider what’s unique about it. What’s
unique about your menu? Has the restaurant been family-owned and
operated for generations? Do you offer vegetarian cuisine? The more
you can make your message unique or different from the “old way,”
the more attention you’ll attract.
3. Thinking they can’t get into a large publication: Many
small business owners feel intimidated by the big name publications.
They envision high-powered magazine editors schmoozing with big
company CEOs and lining up interviews with well-known figureheads
for the next six months. In reality, editors scramble daily to find
people to interview who have knowledge on the latest trends and
topics. Realize too that editors must find new and exciting people
to interview either weekly or monthly, so the more knowledgeable
people they can add to their database, the better. Make yourself
stand out as a reliable information source and you will get the
4. Thinking small publications don’t matter: Even big
name businesses had to build their expertise and name recognition by
starting in small publications and trade journals. Although they
aren’t sold on newsstands, you never know who’s reading them. So
don’t overlook small publications as a foundation for your
5. Thinking their ideas are wonderful: Touting your
experience and explaining all the reasons why your business is
wonderful to an editor is not an effective way to pitch your ideas.
In fact, this is an immediate turn-off. Realize that an editor or
reporter only cares about one thing: their readers. So instead of
telling them all about your ideas and your business, first learn
about their readers and what they want.
6. Pitching themselves, instead of a story for the audience:
Always pitch a publication or program by highlighting the
benefits your business can offer their particular audience. Consider
what uniqueness you can offer and why their readers or viewers will
be interested in what you have to say.
7. Pitching the wrong person: Besides wasting your time,
pitching your ideas to the wrong media person will likely frustrate
them. If you have an article you’d like to publish, you need to talk
to an editor. But if you want to score an interview, you need a
8. Not finding out what reporters really want: As you
present your idea to a reporter, ask questions about what they’re
looking for and what their audience is looking for. Then make
changes to your initial idea based on their responses. Don’t try to
“sell” your idea if it isn’t a good fit; instead, promote alternate
ideas and emphasize your ability to address a variety of issues.
9. Not answering the reporter’s questions: Always let the
reporter or interviewer lead the conversation, because they most
likely have an agenda for the story’s development already in mind.
Don’t attempt to take over the conversation or talk about points the
reporter doesn’t want to cover. They simply won’t include you in the
10. Not getting to the point: Audiences and readers love
to hear firsthand accounts of experiences relating to the topic
because it helps them know you on a more personal level. But don’t
overload the reporter with unnecessary information that isn’t
directly related to the story, and don’t ramble. If you can’t convey
your message in a short amount of time, then your answer won’t be
11. Not respecting the reporter’s time: Reporters work on
time sensitive deadlines, and nothing will irritate them more than
you being inconsiderate. So before you start pitching your ideas,
always ask if they are on deadline. If yes, ask for a more
convenient call back time.
12. Not gearing their pitch to the specific publication:
If you get a “no” response from an editor, reporter, or producer,
always ask, “What don’t you like?” Then adapt your presentation on
the spot. The more you learn about their needs and customize your
message for their specific audience, the more likely you’ll be
featured in their publication or on their show.
13. Making it an advertisement for their product or service:
Authors spend a large portion of their time selling their books
because the profession simply demands it. But interviews and
articles are not the right place to go on and on about your
expertise and knowledge. You must let your information speak for
itself. By giving solid, useable information, audiences will
automatically know how great your book is.
14. Not providing their publicist with material and
information in a timely manner: Business owners are busy—that’s
a given. But so are publicists, editors, and reporters. In order for
your information to get into the right people’s hands, you need to
give your publicist the requested information in a timely manner.
Your publicist can’t pitch you and your book unless he or she has
the most relevant information about you that showcases all you have
to offer in a positive way. And if you make your publicist wait for
information to send an editor or reporter, you may miss your chance
to get interviewed or featured in your desired media outlet.
15. Not understanding the importance of frequency of
publicity: While it takes a long time to build your name
recognition in the marketplace, it takes no time at all for people
to forget about you. So you have to maintain the frequency of your
publicity throughout the life of your business, especially when your
competition maintains the frequency of theirs. Otherwise, you become
Better Publicity in the Future: Just like everyone makes
mistakes, everyone can avoid them by being aware of the common ones.
When you make yourself aware of these fifteen most common mistakes
that business owners make in their publicity campaigns, you can make
the most of every opportunity and achieve a greater level of success
in your business.
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