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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Strle

How to Avoid the Most Haunted PR Communication Mistakes


The worldwide public relations market is valued at approximately $107 billion U.S. dollars in 2023. In addition, it shows no signs of slowing down with a projected annual growth rate of 5.7% in the coming years. Avoiding PR communication mistakes in this important market is paramount for PR pros.


As a PR professional, you are most likely focusing on trying to enhance your company’s reputation. This means that avoiding PR communication mistakes is probably high on your list of priorities.


89% of PR professionals believe the most important role they play is to protect their company’s reputation(USC Annenberg Center for PR)


Finding out how to avoid PR communication mistakes can help you further your company’s positive reputation.


4 Common PR Communication Mistakes(+ How to Avoid)


As a PR pro, avoiding PR communication mistakes can help you build a positive corporate reputation and reap the benefits.

PR professionals and investors agree the most significant benefit that accrues to companies with a positive corporate reputation is corporate brand loyalty. USC Annenberg Global Communications Report 2023

Not Being Transparent or Honest


Customers are increasingly valuing honesty and transparency. However, somehow the news seems plagued with corporate scandals, regulatory fines and whistle blower reports.


When customers trust brands, they are 59% more likely to buy a brand’s products (Edelman)

Consumers have a voice and 71% of people say that it is more important to trust the brands they buy or use today than in the past.


Furthermore, when customers trust brands, they are 59% more likely to buy the brand’s products.


How to Avoid Non-Transparent or Misleading Communication Mistakes


  • Create clear, accurate and forthright messaging

  • Respond to a crisis in a timely and transparent manner, admit wrongdoings, communicate steps taken to correct problems and take further preventative measures

  • Consistently communicate to all stakeholders

  • Train company spokespeople and leaders to communicate through honest and open methods

  • Monitor and engage with stakeholder’s regarding any feedback

  • Engage in social listening and respond to questions or concerns

  • Create behind-the-scenes videos and interviews with management

  • Create a crisis communication plan

  • Regularly review feedback

Ignoring or Responding Poorly to Negative Feedback


There are many channels, including social media, where your customers can give both positive and negative feedback.


In fact, nearly half of all internet users post online reviews every month and 81% of consumers said they read Google reviews in 2021.


Online reviews help consumers that are shopping around and searching for the best products. In addition, consumers are expecting to be heard when they post negative feedback.


53% of consumers want a fast response to

negative reviews (ReviewTracker)


Unfortunately, statistics show that businesses have not kept up with replying to negative reviews in the way that consumers are expecting.


Unsurprisingly, if this is characteristic of your company, it translates into a negative financial impact.


75% of businesses don’t respond to negative

reviews (Keeping)


Indeed, studies show that you can make 35% more in earnings if you respond to at least 25% of reviews. In addition, 86% of users think twice about buying from a company with negative reviews.


How to Avoid Ignoring or Responding Poorly to Negative Feedback


  • Actively listen to all channels where your brand is mentioned, including news outlets and social media

  • Acknowledge quickly to prevent the issue from escalating

  • Stay calm and professional without getting defensive

  • Emphasize, show concern and demonstrate that you value different perspectives

  • Take responsibility

  • Offer solutions

  • Move lengthy conversations offline to email, phone or direct message

  • Provide training for customer service teams on how to manage negative feedback

  • Build and demonstrate a positive corporate brand by showcasing the corporate mission, achievements, testimonials and success stories

Inconsistent or Conflicting Messaging


Inconsistent messaging confuses your customers and erodes trust in your brand.


As a PR pro, you should maintain consistent messaging so that stakeholders understand your brand’s core values and products.


Examples of Inconsistent Messaging


  • Product feature descriptions differ across social media and press releases

  • Internal memos announce job security following a merger & acquisition, but external communication hints at downsizing

  • Initially denying any wrongdoing following a crisis and later accepting responsibility

  • Publicly committing to sustainability but continuing harmful environmental practices

  • Promoting a food or beverage as healthy and simultaneously labeling it as containing high sugar and calories

  • Different company spokespeople promoting different messages

  • PR announcing strong financial health when financial reports or disclosures reveal otherwise


How to Avoid Inconsistent Messaging

Focusing on consistent messaging takes time, effort and a planned approach. Try using the following methods.


  • Adopt a centralized communication strategy across your company with clear guidelines and continually share with all employees

  • Conduct regular training for spokespeople and communicators about key messages, company values and the overarching communications strategy

  • Provide standard communications’ documents outlining the corporate stance on various issues and approved language

  • Hold regular team meetings to ensure everyone understands the communications strategy and messaging

  • Create strong internal communications with frequent informative messaging

  • Conduct external communication checks on press releases, social media posts and other statements before they go out

  • Monitor media coverage for misunderstandings and promptly address

  • Develop a crisis communications plan for consistent messaging during times of crisis

  • Stay updated on all corporate developments that require messaging changes

Overhyping or Overpromising


It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of your new product or company announcement. In fact, you might even become over-exuberant as you excitedly share the details with key stakeholders.


However, it is important to approach everything from a neutral and balanced perspective.


For example, your product or service might in fact have its own shortcomings. Thus, the hype may need to be more subdued.


How to Avoid Overhyping or Overpromising


Your customers might feel betrayed if your products or services don’t live up to the hype of your PR campaign.


Therefore, as a PR professional, try to view the situation from a neutral and logical perspective, use data and facts to back up your claims and set realistic expectations.


  • Use verifiable facts to support your communications

  • Learn about your company’s products & services so you understand strengths, weaknesses and core attributes

  • Collaborate with different departments to understand multiple product/service viewpoints and set realistic expectations

  • Train corporate spokespeople on the importance of accuracy

  • Watch what competitors are saying and try not to “one-up” your competitors with inflated claims

  • Acknowledge areas of development and improvement required

  • Promptly address complaints from customers feeling they have been promised something that was not delivered


Learn how to avoid common PR communications mistakes and enhance your credibility as a PR professional. Subsequently, your company and stakeholders will benefit from your enhanced PR communications strategy.



 

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