Any new business should have a PR strategy in order to position the brand in a way that presents it in the best possible light while getting established in the marketplace. Startups have so much to gain from so little, but they often make some common blunders, just like organizations of all sizes do, including the big players.
Remember when a video of a United Airlines flight went viral, depicting a passenger that was forcibly removed from a plane, dragged off while his face was bloodied? The CEO addressed what happened but his lukewarm apology that was filled with corporate-speak didn’t go over well, damaging the company’s reputation and causing United shares to fall. Apologies should always be genuine and sincere, showing full acceptance of what happened.
While you’re probably not starting a new airline, avoid this as well as other common PR mistakes like these.
Not Knowing Your Story
If you don’t know what makes your business unique and why people should care, who your target customers are and the type of media they’re consuming, your PR strategy is unlikely to be successful. You might be excited to secure a cover story in a magazine, but if your audience isn’t reading it, it’s pointless.
A Lack of Understanding of What is Newsworthy
When starting a new business, you want to get some press but if you’re scrambling for attention through events that neither the public nor the press are interested in, it’s not going to happen.
Any time you reach out to a member of the media with a pitch, they’ll have to determine how newsworthy and shareable it is, and how well it compares to other pitches they receive. Journalists often get slammed with countless misguided pitches, many that aren’t relevant to their beat, and those stories will be ignored.
If you get out there, presenting yourself in a way that’s notable and newsworthy, you’re more likely to get the press. That might include becoming involved in an industry-specific event or a charity organization, or accomplishing something extraordinary like starting a new trend.
Discriminatory Hiring Practices
One of the biggest PR blunders a business of any size can make is having discriminatory hiring practices. It can cause a lot of damage to a company’s reputation in the public eye, but many employers end up on the losing side of discrimination cases due to lack of documentation.
One of the most important things a small business owner should do is to get in the habit of documenting all conversations involving the performance of an employee and any steps taken to rectify problems.
Make sure your job descriptions don’t discriminate against any protected classes of individuals, which include gender, age, race, national origin, religion, family or marital status, or disability. A posting that says “seeking recent college graduates,” for example, potentially discriminates against older individuals as most are in their twenties.
Poor Social Media
Even for the smallest business, a consistent identity across social platforms is a critical step to managing your reputation. The first thing a potential customer, employee, or investor will do is check your digital footprint, which means you need to define your social strategy from the start. Aim to build a clear audience persona for every platform through high-quality content.