Every industry has buzzwords and jargon we wish people would stop using.
The most tired and frustrated things to hear in the PR industry by far are why a public relations program can’t or won’t work.
Below are some of the worst phrases a PR professional can use, along with how we can replace them:
- “It’s hard to measure that.”
It might be hard, but it’s not impossible. Stop talking about how hard it is to define success. Instead, craft measurable, sustainable programs that garner results. The first step is to ensure you’re set up for success by defining goals and objectives. Your goals must be tangible and not broad. PR is not defined by earned media anymore. Because so many of the ways we promote our clients are digital, we have tools and resources to track our results beyond vanity metrics.
Start saying, “Here’s how we can measure this.” Set goals and implement the systems to measure them.
- “Nothing is ever guaranteed.”
This is probably the single most harmful sentence for the PR industry. It implies: “You can pay us, but we might not deliver.” Clients hire PR agencies for creative ideas, relationships with members of the news media, and for industry knowledge. A PR agency should never use “earned media is never guaranteed” as an excuse for failing to deliver against its goals and key performance indicators (KPIs). The better option is to start out with an inkling of what will work and what won’t before sending the pitch.
Instead, tell clients: “If this doesn’t resonate with our media contacts, here is plan B.”
- “That idea probably won’t work.”
Stop telling clients “no” when they come to you with a perfectly good idea.
When a client or boss suggests a PR pitch or program, you immediately figure it’s a long shot. It’s called covering yourself, and we all do it. What it communicates to clients, however unintended, is that you’re uninterested or uninspired by their business.
Instead of having an awkward conversation about whether something warrants media attention, think creatively.
Instead say, “This might not garner much earned media attention. However, we can do a Facebook Live post from our next trade show. Then, we could invite three major industry influencers to run bylined guest blog posts the following week.”
- “There’s no news here.”
One of the most frustrating moments as a PR pro is when a new PR agency pitches you a great plan and proposal full of fresh ideas then says, “There’s no new news,” when you don’t see any earned media placements.
The first thought is “Why did you sign our business? You didn’t seem to think that was an issue in your proposal.” Followed by, “Isn’t it part of your job to create news?”
Some organizations have obvious stories to tell, but it’s part of a PR practitioner’s job to anticipate journalists’ needs and sniff out the real story so we can be successful in generating media placements.
If we don’t think we can do that, we must ask more questions during the proposal process, or decline the business altogether. If we realize we are in over our heads and the news hook isn’t obvious, it’s our job to find a legitimate news hook.
Next time try, “In order for our media contacts to go for this, we will need access to XYZ. Is that something we can have? And if not, what else is in the pipeline?”