Stick a Fork in It: Five Dead Public Relations Tactics

This month’s PRSA Independent Counselors meeting on Dead Public Relations Tactics provided great insights coupled with funny stories from panel speakers, including: Connie Bryant, Newell Rubbermaid; Nancy Rogers, BOLDface Communications, Green Earth PR Network; Chris Schroder, Schroder PR; and moderator: Ed Van Herik, Independent CounselorSo Five PR tactics deemed dead, or near dead:

trash2(Paper. Paper is so out, paper actually takes numbers 1, 2 and 3!)

  1. Press Releases. While the press release itself is not dead (?), a printed-on-letterhead press release sent via mail or fax is certainly not necessary today. (Hint: rhymes with e-mail.)
  2. Press Kits. Big money used to be spent packaging stories in pretty folders with series of four-color brochures, letterhead-printed fact sheets, business cards, etc. Big waste of money now. Reporters don’t have filing cabinets; today they work on laptops.
    • Some clients still insist on mass distributing press releases and press kits, in spite of assurances from their hired experts that journalists do not read them (and if you emailed it, you run the risk of getting blocked for being a spammer).
    • A fancy kit or picture may catch a reporter’s eye, which means wow, you might get them on the phone. But if they’re interested, you have to resend the materials because they “filed” it right away.
    • And yes, after we pitch and call and get the reporter on the phone and interested in the news/story, they ask for…wait for it…a press release. Sigh.
  3. Faxes. See number 1. If it is paper, it’s not being read.
    • Newsrooms sometimes turn off the fax machines. If it’s breaking news, it cannot sit in a pile of paper until someone reads it.

      Paper can be the cut through, that thing that stands out–for the right outlet, pitch and client. Obviously not anything breaking, but PAPER could cut through the electronic din of emails, tweets, RSS feeds for the right story or event.
  4. Press Conferences. Breaking, hard news gets press conference coverage, and that is not usually for a “good” story. Press conferences cover politics, crises, major stories impacting national or regional audiences, or other urgent news. Like Balloon Boy or annoying reality TV people.
  5. Trade shows. Connections are down, fewer media outlets are going, and they send fewer reporters. They have their place for some marketing programs, but trade shows aren’t what they once were.

Exception: Product Demonstrations. Rather than a boring press conference or trade show release, a smart engaging product demonstration can be a good way to present a new product or service to a group of reporters. Bonus if you can pull together multiple brands within your industry and offer a joint demonstration where reporters can get more information for their time invested.

So check yourself PR pro. As professionals, it’s our job to keep current and understand how media audiences respond to our tactics and adjust those tactics for best responses. If you’re still sending out faxes, printing and sending pricey media kits, hosting press conferences for every news announcement, consider this a permission slip to stop it. You’re in danger of getting a headstone in the PR graveyard.

What would you add to Dead PR Tactics?

This was a joint blog post by Davina K. Brewer, with some great suggestions from Jenny Schmitt. Up next, Better PR Tactics for Today’s Media.

Want More? Keep Reading.

5 thoughts on “Stick a Fork in It: Five Dead Public Relations Tactics

    1. Patrick– I should have done a better job ranking these. I agree that faxes are way out and could easily be #1; I hardly ever send or receive a fax anymore. Trade shows have their place for marketing and other communications programs, but solely for PR our discussion just didn’t reveal much recent success. Thanks for reading, sharing your comments.

    1. Mihaela– How are you using the news clippings? Are you talking about just a clipping service compiling all published clips to configure ad equivalencies, do you use the clippings for something other than measurement? This will come up little in the next entry about Better PR Tactics (stay tuned); I just had to break it up as the post was getting too long.

      Thanks for reading, sharing your comments.

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