Clients often come to us seeking training in media relations. It’s crucial that both a public relations practitioner and anyone who might find themselves in the face of the media know how to respond effectively.Here are some easy tips to avoid the public humiliation of a media gaff. They might sound simple but believe us, they are common mistakes everyone makes.
- Proof-read your work. A press release or media statement is something any PR pro is likely to have to prepare on a fairly regular basis. However nothing ruins the credibility of an article like a typo. A good mantra to live by is ‘check once, check twice and check again.’ Getting someone else to read your article before you hit send is another good idea because your own eyes might fail to pick up simple errors, no matter how many times you read it.
- Always think twice before Tweeting, blogging or commenting. The social media era means everything happens instantaneously and once you click send there’s no turning back. Think hard about whether you want the entire world to read what you have to say. A general rule of thumb is to ask yourself if you would want your boss or potential employer to see what you’re writing. If the answer is no, you need to back away from the keyboard and hit that backspace button!
- Take your time. In the fast-paced PR world we often feel there’s a need to provide a response to something the second it happens. If a journalist calls, rather than trying to make up an answer to a question you’re not sure about, take down all the information and call them back when you can provide an informed answer.
- Avoid Clichés. How many times have you heard of the ‘unsung hero’, the restaurant that’s ‘tucked away’ or the ‘intimate affair’? And when you hear them do you care? Probably not. PR is about being creative. Remember, an ‘oldie isn’t always a goodie’.
- There’s no such thing as ‘off the record’. If you wouldn’t tell a stranger on a bus, then don’t tell the person on the phone. No exceptions.
While sometimes a little slip-up is inevitable, being mindful and following these simple tips can go a long way in avoiding common mistakes.