The 5 Worst PR Mistakes That Could Cripple Your Career (And How To Prevent That!)

SUMMARY: Avoid career-damaging PR mistakes by learning from the experiences of others. From ineffective pitches to lack of media training, these errors can be easily prevented with proper preparation and strategy. By focusing on serving the media’s and your audiences’ needs and delivering meaningful stories, you can build a strong reputation and sidestep costly missteps. Embrace media coaching to master the art of delivering engaging interviews and ensure success in your PR endeavors.

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PR Mistakes Can Cost You Everything.

What if I told you that PR done poorly could destroy your business overnight? That’s right, your reputation, your credibility, your brand, your livelihood could disappear with one inaccurate article, one insensitive social media post, one misspoken phrase in a podcast, one TV appearance gone south.

Here are “Five Worst PR Mistakes in Building Your Business” that most people make, but you don’t have to.

1. You Blast Out a Pitch or Press Release Shouting About the Greatness of Your Business, Book, Product, Service or Cause.

We all focus on what’s important to US and what WE want others to know. But the media only want to know how they can serve their audiences, not how their audiences can help you.

In the spirit of service, tell them about all the great solutions you have to their public’s biggest pain or problems, and you’ve got yourself a pitch or press release that will get read and a story that will be told.

The media and their public aren’t interested in you, your service or your stuff. They are interested in a good story or something that gives them what they need that can help them save time, energy, or money. Even though I tell this to people all the time, they still don’t seem to get it. It seems to be a hard concept to grasp and is an easy PR faux pas to fix.

2. You Send a Huge Email Blast to the Most Media Possible.

Sending a huge blast without carefully curating and tailoring a contact list can put you on the proverbial “Do Not Call” list. We call this “spray and pray.” Instead, before you send out your release clearly identify who is best suited to your offering and the journalists and producers most interested in your topic.

To accomplish this, you can either become a member of a press release service that can help you segment your media list properly, hire a publicist who understands your business and the media who would be best for you, or learn how to manage a media list yourself. Then judiciously send to the right people so they don’t ban you from their inbox or ask to be taken off your list (big PR mistake!)

3. You’re Not Media Ready or Need Media Training.

Most people never get media coached. They don’t think they need it. Their logic is that everyone can talk. This PR mistake is the equivalent of saying that because you know how to read you also have the skills to write. Learning to get your message out in any circumstance with any host’s personality and speak in sound bites is a special skill very different than public speaking or casually chatting about what you do.

It’s often the missing link in an otherwise successful PR campaign. Many people slave for years creating and promoting an excellent business, service or product, but then forget the most crucial step to gaining loyalty from the people they want as clients or customers—what they are going to say on the spot to engage them.

Media pioneer Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is the message.” This is still true today. And to go even deeper Gandhi said, “My life is my message.” In today’s fast paced world you and your story are often even more important than whatever you’re promoting.

In 10-30 seconds at a time you need to be able to convey meaning that inspires people to buy or buy into whatever you are promoting. It does take practice to get comfortable, and there is a system to shortcut that process to becoming relaxed and conversational while being authentic and true to yourself during a media interview.

4. You’re Not Prepared to Do All the Work Necessary to Secure the Media Booking.

Producers and journalists expect you to respond ASAP when they ask you for materials when they’re putting together a show or a print/online story.

So, you need to allow time in your schedule to hurry up and get whatever is asked for in an instant. It can be weeks of work, but if you’re prepared ahead of time it can reduce the rush factor and make you stand out from all your competitors vying for the same coveted media spots. Once you understand the most common press kit components and how to create them to the media’s specifications you’ll be half-way there to becoming an excellent, reliable media source.

5. You Don’t Deliver What You Promise.

While there is a lot of worthless blither getting attention in the media today—people with minimal talent and maximum ego, fighting for their 5 minutes of fame, the more nationally respected the publication or show, the more professional and prepared you need to be.

Producers and journalists have to paw through thousands of potential news items every day from people trying to get publicity—most of which is worthless to them. When the media determines that those they believe might be right to fill their need, the person, unaccustomed to such requests, doesn’t follow through in a professional and timely manner with appropriate materials.

Most people don’t have a sense of the tremendous amount of work that goes into creating a show or an article BEHIND the scenes to make sure audiences stay tuned or keep reading in today’s competitive marketplace.

Once you’re booked on a show or for an interview that’s often when the real work begins. You have to give the journalist or producer news that they can use in a way that is packaged properly. To be “mediagenic” means that both you and your product are understood instantly to the public without jargon. There’s a lot of preparation even beyond what I’ve covered here, that goes on behind the scenes to make your publicity campaign run smoothly and avoid PR mistakes.

If you’d like to go deeper…

I’ve turned that knowledge and the most important nuggets in my book, Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul into one of section of a 3 part self-paced-course. Publisher’s Weekly called my bestselling book a “Rumi-meets-Seth Godin public relations handbook.” Hundreds of my readers call it their “Publicity Bible.”

Or if you’re keen on exploring 1:1 expert media training tap the free consult button below.


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Disclosure: Some of the above may be affiliate links that I will be compensated for at no cost to you. They are products or services I’ve either used, vetted or trust. Enjoy!



Hi, I'm Susan

I’m a media coach, martial artist + marketing strategist who helps you communicate your values, mission + message during media interviews to multiply your revenue while building your brand + business. I believe that you don’t need to brag, beg or whore yourself to get the publicity you want. Nor do you need to be an axe murderer, a shamed sports star, or be involved in a sex scandal. There is another way…

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