Why Are You So Bad At Public Relations? (And What You Can Do About It)

Everyone good use a little PR advice every now and again, but man do some people need a lot more than others ...

I have a standing policy here as the new Editor of SocialTimes. If you want to write a guest post for us, send us a news tip, or just tell us how we’re doing, send me an email anytime at STEditor@boun.cr. You can also call me between the hours of 12pm EST and 8pm EST at 518-832-9844 and do the same. Although truthfully, I prefer email. I’m like my grandfather in that respect. He was born in 1912 and wasn’t too big on talking on the phone. Entire conversations with him would go like, “Hey how you doing Poppa?” “I’m ok.” “That’s great!” “Yeah. Goodbye.”

Ok. They didn’t really go like that, but you get the idea. IF you’re looking to strike up a conversation with me, I prefer you email me. Unless I think you could be Wife #2. Then I’ll make an exception and have a prolonged conversation with you on the phone. But let’s get to the point here: I’ve worked in PR for many years. Almost half as long as I’ve been alive since I started when I was eighteen, booking concerts up and down the East Coast. (By the way: A lot of what I learned booking concerts is pretty similar to what you need to know to make websites go viral.) When I first started doing PR, I was really bad at it. I would get people’s names wrong, I’d send long press releases (often quoting myself), and I’d relentlessly follow-up with the person I’m pitching until they covered what I wanted them to. As you can see here, after a while I stopped sucking and got really good at it.

Pro Tip: Only follow-up once, after a week has gone by. Never quote yourself in a press release, always quote two other people not connected with you, and keep all communications brief.

Truthfully, you can’t be awesome at something unless you work at it relentlessly, practice when you’re not working, and educate yourself as much as you can on the subject. So, I don’t fault people for being bad at PR. In a lot of cases they simply don’t know that they’re doing it poorly. But given that PR is so important, especially when it’s often the difference maker between your project or startup gaining traction or folding, after a while it stops being cute and endearing and gets really annoying when you do it wrong. Especially when you’re on the other side of the fence as a journalist and you’re looking for something new to write about. And that’s a key point here: Journalists / bloggers / whatever you want to call the people who update websites you want coverage on these days, they WANT you to contact them. Because if you didn’t, sooner or later they’re going to run out of stuff to talk about. It’s true! Happens to me all the time. I have about fifty tech, social media, and humor blogs that I follow in order to update SocialTimes. I check it multiple times throughout the day, but half the time I finish going through the RSS feed and just click “Mark all as read” because nothing interests me. The same happens at every other website. We want new and interesting stuff and to hear from new and interesting people.

But when you don’t approach these folks in the right way, you aren’t new and interesting. They see you as dumb and annoying. I don’t because I can relate to you. I’ve been there. I’ve made all sorts of PR mistakes. I changed my ways and got really good at it. The same can happen to you, so I don’t judge. But here’s a few quick tips that I hope you’ll take to heart when pitching a website like SocialTimes and others. The better you get at public relations, the less likely you are to get judged and the more likely you are to get covered: