7 signs your PR efforts need a reboot

Does it feel like you’ve hit a rut? Are things a tad stale in your office or PR department? Check these signs—if they apply to you, it might be time to freshen things up.

One of the exhilarating things about working in PR, particularly on the agency side, is the variety of what we do. It’s ideal for those of us who are easily bored and don’t want to get into a rut.

Yet, we, too, can fall into routine, and even the best-conceived plan can become outdated or stale over time. Here are seven signs that your PR plan might need a reboot:

You’re relying on press releases. They still have their place, of course, but they shouldn’t be a crutch. Outreach to important constituents, including journalists, should go far beyond “broadcast news.” Of note, the rise of digital and social media and electronic news distribution has placed a higher premium on personal relationships and handcrafted outreach.

Your PR is a one-way street. Some blast out press releases. Others, even large, sophisticated brands, use social media channels as broadcast platforms (hence the term from above “broadcast news”). Wrong. These tactics will limit your return on investment and may even turn off your target audiences. Digital and social channels should invite feedback.

You’re unprepared for feedback. Inviting a social response means you’re prepared to engage, respond, and handle comments that can at times be critical or difficult. Knowing the social media protocol is half the battle, but being ready to respond in public about sensitive business issues is also important.

You talk only about yourself. See above. It’s not just about you. There’s nothing wrong with commercial news announcements or press releases detailing product benefits, but any news is more powerful if it’s tied to other happenings, trends, needs, or events. The bigger picture will usually yield bigger returns.

Your content is stale or nonexistent. If your blog is just warmed-over press releases, a news feed from other sites, or your bylined article from 2011, it’s time to do a content audit and commit to a manageable schedule of blogging or, if impossible, guest blogging and social media sharing. Yes, PR is about getting other people to say good things about you, but today it’s also about sharing your own relevant content.

You’re not making new contacts. The media world is far more dynamic than it used to be. If you aren’t refreshing and renewing contacts on a regular basis, or if you see the same faces at your product overviews or media get-togethers, your universe is shrinking. Chances are, so is your influence.

Your PR program is just like last year’s. We used to plan in 12-month cycles, but today the planning cycle is far shorter, to accommodate a changing media and news environment as well as dynamic business conditions. Even the brand narrative, which was once cast in stone, should be reviewed every 90 days for relevance.

Refresh, reboot, recharge. Feel better now?

Dorothy Crenshaw is CEO and creative director of Crenshaw Communications. She has been named one of the public relations industry’s 100 Most Powerful Women by PR Week. A version of this story first appeared on her blog.

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