The top three reasons PR fails (and what to do about it)

The old adage went that you paid for advertising and prayed for PR. But why should that be the case? With a few strategic additions to a PR campaign, you should be able to guarantee results.

There are three main reasons why PR goes wrong, explains Catherine Warrilow
There are three main reasons why PR goes wrong, explains Catherine Warrilow
PR has evolved as a discipline and it demands that we be far more analytical and SEO savvy. 

Yes, media relationships remain important, but having all of the editors within your sector on speed dial will not make a campaign work.

Putting the customer journey at the centre of everything you do is more important than ever, and all too often, brands prioritise coverage over the customer experience.

It is time to think logically about how to get a customer to move from point A to point B. I think it is a welcome shift.

We are forced to focus on the customer in far more depth – the only way to reach people is to truly understand their motivations and habits.

So what can we do to make sure traditional PR methods, such as media coverage, still work?

1. On-site experience. You can get a swarm of people to visit a website from a fantastic piece of online coverage, but if the customer is not engaged, they will not buy. Always start a campaign with a set of recommendations that will increase traffic conversion. Request access to Google Analytics to see what the main traffic sources are, as well as identifying any critical points at which people are dropping off.

2. Content appeal. Not only does great onsite text and video content get people onto a website, it keeps them there, and if done properly, keeps them coming back for more. If a customer reads a fantastic article on the Huffington Post site for example, yet finds nothing further to entice them towards a purchase once on the website, 75 per cent of the effectiveness of that piece of coverage is lost. I call it ‘the moment of obsession’ – what is your customer lusting after right now and how can you use the website including the blog, news, gallery or events pages to give them an overwhelming reason to stay on your site?

3. Niching. Finally, I see campaigns failing time and time again because of one fundamental reason – trying to reach too many people. Good PR should be designed to reach a select few influencers – a micro niche. For example, it is no good just targeting empty nesters – what type of empty nesters are they? Perhaps they are empty nesters living in London, retired from the creative industries, fans of Spanish food and interested in local galleries, for example. If you cannot craft your message towards a really specific audience your message is not going to cut through and support that moment of obsession. You are not going to have influence at the level you need to become the market leader in your arena.

In summary, there is some essential housekeeping that must happen for PR to work effectively.
PR is a hybrid discipline of marketing, SEO, design, expert copywriting and product development.
You have got to shape all of these around the customer journey to stand out – and make people obsessive about championing your brand.

Catherine Warrilow is the managing director of Seriously PR

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