Have you recently decided to go it alone with PR? If so, well done you! It’s a great tool and should help boost sales and brand awareness for your business. But, just like any other area of business development or operations, there are a few common mistakes that you can make that might temper the effectiveness of your campaign if you don’t keep an eye on them.

Here are six of the most common pitfalls that I think are well worth looking out for when you take a step into DIY PR, plus I’ll tell you how you can avoid them.

1. Different expectations of what is newsworthy

This is such a hard one to talk to clients about because they love their businesses so much that they find it all so exciting. But you need to see this through the eyes of the press. They are there to share news that they think their audience will find compelling. So how can you know if you should be publicising something? If it’s not something that you’d pick up the telephone to tell a friend about then it’s not worth bothering the press about. Save the PR for exciting new products, industry award wins or the launch of a new and unique service. I would always advise clients not to send a press release out about an old product just because they want to sell their old stock…


See also: The DIY PR checklist


2. Not doing your research

Make sure you plan your PR campaign thoroughly, including deciding which publications you would like to send information to and finding out who the best journalists working there are to approach. Every single journalist has a story about being sent a press release promoting a product that is nothing to do with their area of expertise. It wastes their time and you might end up blocked or in junk mail. Send releases to people who write about products, events and services just like yours.

3. Including far too much information

Journalists get an awful lot of emails every single day and the chances are they will not have time to read your email from start to finish. Some really don’t like PR approaches and won’t read them at all if they aren’t hooked from the first second, so make sure your subject line is compelling and you get the key information into the first paragraph of the email. If you have more detailed information about your brand that you want to flag up, then include it in the editors notes. Feel free to link out to supporting information on your website or blog if you feel you have more to say, or share your social media details.


See also: Eight reasons PR is just as vital in the digital world


4. Or, forgetting the key information

Yes, you need to keep things short and sweet but don’t forget to include the most important information in your press release. That includes how someone can buy your product (website link or shop address), how much it costs, how to find out more about your business. If you have compelling statistics about why people should sit up and take notice of your brand, then make sure you include them. Good quality, high resolution imagery is essential for product promotion too. If you’ve designed the next best thing in country clothing people will want to see what it looks like.

5. Learn about lead times

Magazines will be working months in advance (some of the leading monthly glossies will be researching Christmas gifts now!), local papers will plan some editorial weeks prior to publication and local radio will be scheduling programming a month or so in advance. Make a plan for any seasonal promotion (that includes St Valentine’s Day, Easter, Bank Holiday or summer events, Halloween, bonfire night and so on) that includes sending information to long lead time press well in advance and then approaching online and publications with shorter lead times nearer to the key date.


See also: What works well when it comes to PR?


6. Attention to detail is key

Check the information in your press release is correct (and that any links work), and make sure the spelling and grammar is spot on. Then, when you are ready to distribute it, don’t just copy and paste the same email or BCC to all the journalists on your list. Personalise the email and make sure you tweak the message depending on the publication or channel you are approaching.