The 7 Deadly PR Sins – How we sabotage our own PR!

The UKAWP know Paula Gardner very well due to the workshops she has done for us not to mention the fantastic coaching she gave attendees at WPE ’09. Her advice is always concise and easy to fully, she is presenting again at WPE ’10 so do come along and meet her in person.


One of the difficult things with PR is that journalists aren’t generally chasing you – it’s very much up to you to find the motivation and self-discipline to get it done. But, interestingly, even when we do do it, we sometimes sabotage our own efforts. Take a look at what I mean….

1. Not Making Time

Because PR is very much self motivated it’s easy to put it to one side for that fantastic day when you don’t have anything else to do. And we all know that that day never happens. You need to spend at least an afternoon or morning a week on PR to see results. Any less and it just won’t be worth it.

Solution: Choose a few consecutive hours and mark them in your diary as PR time. Keep them sacred – just as you would do for a weekly exercise class – and let nothing interfere. It might take a while to see the results but they will happen, I can assure you.

2. Faffing About

This is one trap that I see a lot of people fall into. At networking meetings I often hear phrases such as “I intend to really get started on PR when I’ve finished tweaking my website”. Then three months later you meet them and they say the same thing. Or sometimes it’s “I’m just about ready but first I wanted to have a chat with my business advisor, coach and accountant about my goals and then we’ll put together an overall marketing strategy.” Argh! Stop it! Websites can be tweaked as you go and, although consultations with professionals are important and valuable, there comes a time when you’ve just got to take that leap and do it.

Solution: Think Nike – just do it.

3. The Big Scary Press Release

For many this can be the biggest stumbling block that they’ll come across and this is where their PR campaign comes to an end. Full stop. But the important thing to remember about press releases is that one press release isn’t going to change the future of your business – it’s the persistent drip drip of getting your name and story out to the media that is going to do that.

Solution: get someone else to write it, or try our Write Your Own Press Release ecourse

4. Not Following Up

I know – you’re busy. We all are. And it is perfectly possible to conduct a PR campaign without picking up the phone. But anything you do will be maximised by following it up and building up relationships with the press. Almost every one of my coaching clients who have admitted feeling anxious about doing that have all gone onto being able to do it in the end. Some even experience a great buzz because they know that the results are well worth that anxious gulp just before you pick up the phone.

Solution: Start small – try your local papers or a small circulation magazine – and work your way upwards. Or you could try our Cold calling Crash Course and get personalised feedback on your own technique.

5. Falling into the “I Wanna be Famous” Trap

Yes, it is rather nice if Ideal Home magazine wants to interview you about your new bathroom but if your business is actually running a holistic health clinic then is it really that relevant? I’m not saying don’t do these things if they come up, but use your active PR time to focus on getting coverage in publications and places that will actively promote your business.

Solution: Think carefully about who and what you need to focus on and keep to your list. Pin it over your desk to remind you daily if necessary.

6. Not Doing Your Research

Contacting a publication that only runs celebrity stories with a press release on the launch on your cleaning business is a waste of both your time and theirs – unless one of your clients happens to be David Cameron or Madonna.

Solution: Look at your publications and the stories they currently run. If they like stats and facts, get some from somewhere; if they like human-interest stories, see what you can do to tug their heartstrings with your own – or a clients’ – story.

7. Being Too Successful

The honey trap of PR! Good PR inevitably raises your profile and brings in new work but the danger is that you then don’t have the time to continue with your PR activities, and then six months down the line things go quiet again.

Solution: You need to continue to set aside a regular time investment in PR – or, if things are really busy and you feel it’s the right step to take – get someone onboard to do PR. It could be an outside agency, a freelancer or even one of your staff or a VA who is responsible for keeping some PR activity ticking over.

By Paula Gardner of



  1. David Hutchinson on 3rd December 2009 at 5:42 pm

    so many truths in one post! can I expand on #4? I think so many of us get sidelined by having continuous distractions which severely impact productivity. Interruptions by having incoming emails, social networks, twitter etc etc all acting as distractions. Make a decision – I’m doing 2 hours of serious work without interruption – then give 10 minutes to answer emails and messages – then another 2 hours of serious work. I think most people will find their productivity soar!.

  2. David Hutchinson on 3rd December 2009 at 5:44 pm

    Sorry actually meant your #2

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