Luckily, the “d” word isn’t something we hear a lot. But if it’s something you’re feeling after a PR push, whether it’s one you’ve done in house or worked on with a PR consultancy, it’s really important to look at why it missed the mark. If you’re disappointed in your PR results, and campaigns are leaving you underwhelmed, here’s why that might be, and how it can be avoided in future.
What were your expectations?
You shouldn’t ever be eagerly anticipating coverage in The Economist if your story was only ever destined for a local news portal. That’s not to be disparaging – both publications have their place and both are important in reaching certain audiences. The point is, you should be given an indication of where coverage is possible (and where it isn’t) before the pitch. This conversation can even start when you first start discussing the PR campaign.
No one has a crystal ball, and you could get very lucky or less so. But a good PR agency should have targets in mind when they’re crafting content, and they should be able to share and agree those with you.
Art not science
Building on the point above, PR is an art, not a science. We’ve had BBC filming lined up only for the news to throw us completely off track and for a crew to abandon a shoot to cover a breaking story. Likewise, we’ve had small stories being picked up nationally because they happened to hit the spot and be just what an editor was looking for at that moment.
This is the world of PR! Ensure any PR team you’re working with keeps you abreast of what’s happening at each stage. They can’t control some of it, but they can and should give you as much information as they know at each stage.
Did you understand the journey?
We work with a range of clients who have never done PR before, or have had limited experience. That’s fine, and we can take most of it off their hands. But we do explain what we’re doing at each stage, what’s needed and how long things are likely to take.
If you were expecting something to land that didn’t – did you get given the full picture? Did you understand what was happening, and when? You don’t need to be a PR expert but some knowledge of the process helps to put things in context, in our experience.
Coverage is never guaranteed
We’ve talked about why we never guarantee coverage in a dedicated piece, but in essence, no one can truly ensure coverage goes into a publication at any given time, unless that’s a paid-for spot, such as an advertorial.
If you’ve been guaranteed coverage that doesn’t appear, it’s definitely worth asking more about it, and how (and why) it was guaranteed in the first place.
This mindset shift is a helpful step away from feeling disappointed in your PR results, and big a step towards getting it right next time.
Are you targeting the right audience?
If coverage appeared but didn’t hit the right audience – are you sure it was designed to target them in the first place? Some publications are great to appear in from a profile point of view. But some are more likely to hit your objectives than others.
Ensure you’re always clear who’s being targeted and why that’s the right target audience for your objectives. Start with the end – what do you want those people reading the coverage to do? And then work back from that.
For us, it’s paramount that everyone understands what’s achievable, what could make the news (and where) and that no one is underwhelmed. We do put a lot of groundwork into explaining what we’re doing, we are responsive, honest and transparent and we partner with clients. That’s what gets the best results for everyone.