The reputation of PR among the media must be maintained for it to be regarded as trustworthy. If the quality and relevance of what PR teams supply to the press declines to a low level, then its credibility will slip also and make life more difficult for PR professionals and their clients.
Maintaining high standards is fundamental to maintaining its reputation. To achieve that requires experienced senior professionals to pass on best practice in every aspect, from research and story conception to writing and targeting, to the next generation of executives, and to insist that they are upheld.
Here are several areas where potential danger lies if care is not taken to keep standards high.
1. PR professionals must write and issue news releases not press releases
The difference between news releases and press releases is vitally important. It comes back to the clear old definition of ‘news’ – it is the plural of ‘new’ and so a news release must be about something that is new. The media want to pass on what is new to their readership, not recycle or reprint a piece of old promotional content to raise a profile. News releases are based on something new, press releases too often aren’t.
2. Know the media. Research and know exactly what each title actually writes about and in what format
When compiling a potential media target list, a professional consumer PR or B2B PR agency or team acquires or already has recent copies of as many publications as possible or looks at its website or listens the radio stations to find out whether it is a music only station. Younger staff must read the media thoroughly and research exactly what each title writes about and how it is structured, to know whether it takes opinion articles from outside contributors, or profiles individuals.
3. Target only those who are exactly relevant to the story
PR professionals concerned with keeping up high standards and the reputation of the PR industry review every title on their potential distribution list before sending out a news release or interview opportunity notice. The unprofessional send out the release to every email address they can, regardless of whether the news is of no relevance to the particular title; they ‘spray and pray’ in the hope that something might hit. The ‘carpet-bombing’ approach simply damages the reputation of the brand, agency and PR and, apparently, achieves nothing. ‘Unsubscribe’ request are the new indicator of poor targeting.
A decline in standards can be prevented and the reputation of the PR upheld if new staff learn and stick to the professional approach to media relations.