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How to suck at PR

So the economy’s not been the best recently and corporate budgets are under pressure to be sliced within a hair’s width of operative.

Here at More Fire PR, we like to focus on the positive. That said, it’s worth noting there are ways and means of refocusing your communication efforts that can either benefit, or seriously harm your organisation.

Here’s a brief summary of some of the worst ways to save money through PR cutbacks:

Who needs it – it’s just fluff and spin – right? Not if it’s done properly folks. There are few organisations that prefer not to communicate with anyone, at any time, either within or outside of their operation.

Effective PR is based in fact and plays an important part in influencing and delivering strategic goals. It’s there to cover reputation, profile raising, (genuine) engagement with the right connections, and help dispel incorrect perceptions of a company, group, product or service. Oh, and having a compelling story to tell is a pretty important part of the process too.

Remember it’s all relative. If an expensive PR activity also provides the best ROI, removing it is likely to cost your organisation dearly in the long-term.

Never do any PR, ever

‘Having a compelling story to tell is a pretty important part of the process’

Withdraw any PR activities that cost too much

The same principal applies to hacking back equally across all of your communication activities. PR expenditure should be judged on target audience impact and achievement against organisational objectives. Cuts should not be made even-handedly just because it seems like the ‘fair’ thing to do.

Today’s 24 hour news machine means a positive opportunity or response to a crisis can’t, and won’t, wait until you’re good and ready. If you don’t speak to the issue, it’s a sure bet someone else will quickly fill any void requiring a comment.

Spokespeople should ideally be experts in their field or, if a crisis arises, leaders at the highest level. They should be trained in what to expect, how to handle difficult questions and how to communicate in an accurate, informative and interesting way. They will represent your brand to your audiences and so should reflect core values in their tone and presentation. Never put forward a junior representative to take the flak, it suggests you are hiding, don’t care, or are not taking the issue seriously.

Each circumstance is different. Some are better suited to news releases, others to one-to-one meetings, telephone calls, staff briefings, social media, notices, events or conferences, interviews, photo calls, stunts… and so on. Don’t limit communications to one tried and tested method, and always consider your audiences and how they prefer to receive information.

A great way to achieve an instant PR fail is to continue doing everything you usually do, but with cheaper people.

Don’t train media spokespeople, just wing it

‘Never put forward a junior representative to take the flak’

Just deliver press releases

Each circumstance is different. Some are better suited to news releases, others to one-to-one meetings, telephone calls, staff briefings, social media, notices, events or conferences, interviews, photo calls, stunts… and so on. Don’t limit communications to one tried and tested method, and always consider your audiences and how they prefer to receive information.

Get rid of the best, hire the rest

Complete the well-worn phrase “you pay peanuts, you get….”

Making experienced and highly-qualified staff redundant, only to replace them with (sometimes) younger, and almost certainly cheaper workers is illegal, so expect to be punished if you do this. It also provides results you’d likely expect from such a move. Complete the well-worn phrase “you pay peanuts, you get….”