7 PR tactics that hurt more than they help

A stunt intended to grab headlines can result in the wrong kind of publicity if communicators don’t take precautions. Here are some common gaffes—and tips on how to avoid them.  

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Though public relations techniques are meant to get attention, some become news for the wrong reasons.

Here are seven examples illustrating how PR gambits can become costly blunders:

1. The corny, horny news release

“Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and whether you’re planning on smashing bae’s junk to smithereens or making out with a pint of Phish Food…”

That was the sentence that began the lead paragraph of a news release? distributed in early February 2019 to promote Meghan Trainor’s new EP, “The Love Train.”

The media and online buzz was mixed. Reporters and bloggers found it either hilarious or distasteful. Regardless of one’s opinion, this explicit new release became the story for its highly unusual approach and surprisingly sexual content. This news release is bound to live on in social and traditional media and eventually become fodder for textbook case studies and “what-not-to-do” sidebars.

2. From Russia, with an op-ed

“A Plea for Caution from Russia” was the title of a New York Times op-ed by Vladimir Putin in 2013. The Russian president outlined strategies for diplomacy, instead of military intervention, after claims that the Syrian government used chemical weapons.

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