The 3rd Most Common Ghastly PR Mistake


PR is such a vastly misunderstood subject (but does not have to be) that people understand PR by comparing it to what it is not –  in terms of what not to do.

In light of that, there are three basic, but ghastly, mistakes in PR. They are horrific  because they cause a host of evils to occur – the worst of which is lost revenues.  Don’t let this be you!

Ghastly mistake No. 3: this is the deadly case of not understanding the subject of public relations.

When you don’t understand the subject of PR, you are closing your eyes and handing a bunch of money to an “expert”.  In our business, we call this abdicating, not delegating.

─     Abdicate: Fail to fulfill or undertake (a responsibility or duty); renounce – resign – relinquish – waive – give up (More info – – – Merriam-Webster – The Free Dictionary)

─     Delegate: Entrust (a task or responsibility) to another person, typically one who is less senior than oneself; depute – commission (More info – Wikipedia – – – Merriam-Webster)

Look in the definition of delegate – it implies that you are still the senior in charge; you have not relinquished your duty.  Waiving your responsibility to understand, at least the basics of a particular subject, is one of the biggest mistakes that you can make in any endeavor.  And that is the reason why people get disillusioned on the subject of PR as a whole and lose out on being able to use it as a tool to help their marketing and sales bring in revenue.

What PR is Not

PR is not marketing.  PR is not sales.  So when it gets used as a marketing tool or the only tool to bring in revenue, one is severely crippling the ability of PR to do its job.

PR is a valuable facilitator to marketing and sales.  It goes before both marketing and sales to generate goodwill and credibility for your company, its products and services (and even you) in order to make people more interested and comfortable in doing business with you.  Used with marketing and sales, it then increases the market share of your business.

JOTO_CHART_091820122-300x231The Order of PR to Marketing and Sales

Here’s the real deal – KNOW THIS ORDER:

  1. PR breaks down barriers so that people are more comfortable and more interested in doing business with you. You get publicized in magazines, newspapers, TV and/or the radio by news journalists that are touting the validity of your company, service or product – these press pieces are newsworthy and bring the public’s awareness up of who you are and what you have to offer (no marketing or sales gimmicks at this point – just straight dope.)
  2. Then you market to that SAME target market to get them to reach into your organization for more information.  You have to have a marketing process to reach the target publics that have seen your PR.
  3. Then you sell to them!  You have to have a sales process that can take the leads that reach into your company (from your marketing) and follow up with them to make them into clients.

Real-life ‘Bad’ PR Examples

Like I said, people learn better on this subject via real-life bad examples.  Here are a three:


─     A large bank holding company wants to create a profitable image with a particular target segment.  They hire an industry PR firm to help them with this.  They get press in their trade mags, replete with industry-jargon interviews, media articles, expert-source quotes – yet “no results.”

JoTo is called by this company asked to look into this.  What did we find?  Sadly, no market research was ever done to find out what their target market wanted to hear or see that would help them and therefore rely on this company as a source for their needs.

Instead they got what the PR firm and the company itself thought was “good ideas.”  One hundred thousand dollars later and “little to no results.”

What they should have done?  Market research first.  Listen, I think I am very smart and my PR people are the brightest in the business, but I know one thing: our “bright ideas” don’t mean jack-crap if it is not want the public want to see or hear.

We were commissioned to do market research for this company.  And shockingly, we found that the ideal client for this company was the most boring uptight bunch of do-it-by-the-rules group of people I have ever witnessed – by their own admission!  And the thing they hated?  Industry-jargon slinging bunch of experts pushing out tons of advice that made them understand their jobs even less.  Once we did that, it was even easier to see why the earlier PR campaign got “no results.”

[NOTE: This scenario violated the very first step of the PR process: Fact-finding.]


Plan─     A social-media marketing expert and a sales-training expert wanted to put on a business seminar for a particular segment of the business population in a large metropolitan city. They wanted some PR to go with it to create some credible news stories about this upcoming venture and who was putting it on.

  • Press was gotten in major business publications – Business Journals, trade magazines, and daily papers in the business sections.
  • Email educational newsletters were sent out
  • Email marketing messages were sent out as follow-ups.  There was tracking done on the email software so that they knew who was opening the emails, what day and time they were opened, how many times they opened, who clicked through on the provided links, etc.

But this PR campaign was said to have “failed.”  When JoTo PR was again called and asked to look into it we found out that the social-media marketing expert and the sales-training expert were waiting for the phone to ring and people to miraculously pay right off the bat. They SAT by the phone and WAITED.

After the PR and the initial marketing messages, there was NO processes put in place to follow up with the people that clicked on the links, who made initial requests for more info nor who replied “maybe” that they were interested.  Unfortunately, these experts didn’t understand their own subject enough to know that people who had responded were leads and needed a sales person to call and confirm them for the seminar, and possibly another email campaign to build up their interest into PAYING. But instead they mistakenly SAT there and thought that the PR that got in the press would magically make people pick up the phone and call.

When they actually did pick up the phone and contact these leads, the prospects signed up. And they had seen the earlier PR, but were themselves waiting.  I wonder how many sign-ups this company could have gotten if they had put in a sales process earlier???

[NOTE: This scenario violated the second step of the PR process: Planning.]


─     A self-defense and gun-training facility spent tens of thousands of dollars on a PR campaign that got “no results.”

When JoTo PR was again asked to look into it, we found why it got “no results” (meaning it did not generate interest and credibility in their company by the group of people that would be their ideal target market).

What did I find?  The media outlets that their PR firm got this gun-training facility in were the most left-wing anti-gun media outlets representing a readership and viewership that would not have anything to do with guns even if you paid them a million dollars!  It probably even made them mad and created anti-PR for this business.  So, the actual public that would come to their facility never saw the publicity generated for this company.

(That also told me that they had no PR strategy – because if they did they would have figured out WHO to target their media relations efforts to.  What a waste.)

[NOTE: This scenario violated the third step of the PR process: Communicating.]

Suggested Reading

PR is a powerful tool to dismiss simply because you did not do your homework.  Understanding three simple basics of PR will enormously help you not only understand how to best use the subject for your business, but it will help you understand how to find the right PR firm to hire – and you’ll be delegating, not abdicating.

Effective Public Relations, by Cutlip and Center.  It’s one of the better books on the subject of PR.  I like the Third Edition.  And if you read nothing else, read the Chapters The First Step, The Second Step, The Third Step and The Fourth Step.  Youll be wiser and well-versed in what your PR firm should be doing for you.

I hope you found this useful.


To your success,

Karla Jo Helms

P.S.  Subscribe to our PR Tips Newsletter on our website.  JoTo PR has generated millions of dollars in PR for its clients in media placements and publicity – we could help you too!


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