QUIZ: Can You Spot These Dumb PR Tactics?

Posted by Wendy Marx

Apr 6, 2016


We all make dumb mistakes. And while some PR mistakes might include minor infractions like neglecting to add a link to a piece of content, other wrong-headed PR tactics have more damaging consequences. 

Remember when a sales manager at Dell's Texas campus hired a fake gunman to storm its office, demanding employees rush to the lobby? Turns out it was a lame and illegal attempt at stirring up excitement for the release of Dell's new tablet. Not funny, right? The police didn't think so either. The masked man and his supervisor were both arrested and charged with misdemeanor offenses.

Not exactly a shining PR moment. 

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.”  ~ Warren Buffet CLICK_TO_TWEET.png

OK, that dumb PR move was easy to spot (and a bit horrifying). But, can you spot these slightly less-dumb PR tactics?

Increasing Site Traffic - Spot These Dumb PR Tactics

Your online presence is everything. So, of course you want to boost your site traffic. What is the smartest way to do this? 

1. Make sure you load your pages with keywords so that search engines find you

2. Host a blog

3. Include plenty of videos and images on your home page to grab people's attention

4. All of the above.

Did you spot the real answer? If you guessed "Host a blog," then you guessed right! Hosting a blog that strategically uses (but doesn't overuse) keywords increases the chance Google will find you. Each blog post (provided it has it's own URL) is a new page for search engines to crawl. 

What about those other two choices? Are they really dumb moves? Well... yes! Loading pages with keywords is old school and will help Google find you - and mark your post as SPAM. So don't do it.

Next, burdening your home page with too many images and video slows down load time. Three seconds -- that's all you have to capture your viewers' attention before they scurry away from your page. Three seconds! So if your page is laden with video that loads too slowly, you'll lose your viewer before you even have them. 

Emails -- Spot These Dumb Moves

Email marketing is science mixed with emotion. It's tricky. Can you spot these dumb PR tactics -- and pick out what you should be doing? 

1. Conserve resources -- send the same email to everyone on your list

2. Buy email lists to ensure maximum reach

3. Segment contacts and spend time sending different emails to different contacts

4. Use email automation

Did I throw you a curve ball here? There are two dumb things in this list, and two smart things in this list.

First, you always want to segment your contacts. Not everyone is at the same stage in the sales funnel. A person you just made contact with isn't ready for a pitch asking him to sign on for a year-long commitment. 

Second, using email automation allows you to easily send the right offers to the right people, at the right time. If your automation system notifies you that someone has downloaded an offer, you certainly don't want to harass the person with an email that same day (for more info on how to nurture B2B leads with low-pressure emails, check out this post).

However, putting that on your to-do list for later in the week can be a recipe for disaster as well -- you'll likely forget or won't have time. Email automation solves this with pre-designed workflows that send follow-up emails to the right people at the right time. 

We've covered why conserving resources and sending the same email to everyone is a bad idea.

Now, on to number 2 (shudder). Buying email lists is not only a slimy thing to do, but it's plain ol' illegal. Just don't do it...ever. Plus, you're not doing yourself any favors since most people on the list are going to report your email as SPAM or opt out anyway. 

Press Releases -- Spot These Dumb PR Moves

Press releases continue to evolve. Have you kept up? Let's see if you can spot some of these dumb PR tactics and pick out the right ones:

1. Inform the media of any changes within your company

2. Don't use any images

3. Share the release on social media

4. Use industry-related vernacular and acronyms

Hopefully this one was a no-brainer, but just in case... let's review. Did you answer "Share the release on social media?" Then bravo!

Always share your press release on social media, as well as in your own online newsroom. You'll get much further reach and to the right audience as well. 

“People share, read and generally engage more with any type of content when it's surfaced through friends & people they know and trust.” ~ Malorie Lucich CLICK_TO_TWEET.png

Press releases shouldn't be boring text-only scrawls of random information. They should always serve a purpose to your audience. Ask yourself if anyone will really care about the contents of your release. The public doesn't need to know everything  you're doing. 

Always include visuals -- just one is fine. Visuals capture the eye and help to explain what you're talking about. According to Business Wire, press releases with multimedia assets generate 3X more activity than text-only releases.

Lastly, avoid using industry jargon and vernacular. Press releases are read by those who may not be involved in your industry, so don't try to sound smart by talking over your audience in terms they don't understand and don't even need to understand. 

Marketing Strategies/Media -- Can You Spot These Dumb Moves?

See if you can spot the dumb PR moves in this list:

1. Launch your initiative when your CEO is away so that he/she doesn't have to be bothered

2. Write a piece of content without getting your partner's conceptual buy-in

3. Offer exclusives to several outlets, but run your piece in any and all who will bite

4. Issue a report for a U.S.-based audience that features broken English -- it will sound more exotic.

5. Tout the glories of your company to bloggers and reporters so they will write about you.

I really hope you recognized all of them as dumb PR moves! 

Yes, launching a major initiative while your CEO or key spokesperson is away is a dumb PR move of epic proportions! 

Getting a partner to buy in to a great piece of content before you create it should priority number one. There's no sense in putting the cart before the proverbial horse.

There's never an excuse to use shoddy grammar. If your audience is based in the U.S., make sure your content is written or edited by someone who not only knows English, but is a master of the language.

When you offer an exclusive, it should be exclusive!  You certainly don't want to alienate people you will need in the future.  

Lastly, bloggers and reporters have no desire to receive self-promotional communications. If you wish to connect with them, do so in a genuine way -- by getting to know them and appreciating their work. 

Alright, how did you score? I bet you got an A+! If you didn't (or even if you did), how about brushing up on some current PR trends and tips?

Check out my presentation, The Bottom Line About PRYou'll learn about what PR is not, plus you'll get some great ideas on how to create PR initiatives that bring results. 

Get free access to the presentation by clicking below. I wish you success in all your PR endeavors! 

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About this blog

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 B2B PR Sense focuses on the challenges and opportunities facing companies and executives as they navigate the B2B PR/marketing world of content marketing, social media and inbound marketing...along with traditional media. Welcome aboard!