The world of PR is a confusing one, especially if you’re new to it. Finding what works for your business doesn’t happen overnight, as you probably already know! Without much experience, PR can seem like feeling your way in the dark. As professionals, we’ve identified the most common mistakes companies make in their PR strategy – we’re not trying to be harsh here, it’s just easier if you know about it sooner than later.

Jordan Baker, CEO of Sanity Marketing who has worked with over 120 clients from the House of Commons to the Crowne Plaza Hotel chain, reveals 5 PR mistakes you’re making (without even knowing it):

1. You’re assuming people care – this is a biggie. To assume that people (especially stressed out, busy journalists) care is the wrong starting point. The correct starting point is – they couldn’t care less – think to yourself ‘what can I do to make them care?’ It’s a hard pill to swallow for some marketers and especially for business owners.

How to fix it – what do journalists want? Content. When do they want it? Now. They will care indefinitely more if you have content they can use – a new concept, a new story, a new angle – but remember – it’s the content they want – that’s your Trojan Horse to get that coverage.

2. You’re not tailoring your press release – sending out mass-emails to loads of different publications may seem like it’ll save you time, but it won’t. You need to spend the time getting to know your audience, so your press releases don’t get deleted as soon as they hit the inbox. I’ve heard of female journalists being sent review opportunities for close shaves – not cool.

How to fix it – create a series of lists of different journalists according to what you are selling in.

3. You’re waffling in your press release – being clear in your message is key to getting results. Waffling on just bores whoever you’re talking to, especially if you’re trying to pitch your business for the first time. In other words, spit it out!

How to fix it – stick to one page and set out the press release in a clear concise way. Ask colleagues and friends to sense check for you.

4. You don’t know what you want or how to measure success – aside from money and success (beauty and youth – just me?), you’re not sure what you want from your PR efforts. Remember, PR is a slow-moving, long-term activity and rarely a tangible one. Most importantly, one article does not make a business successful.

How to fix it – have clear expectations – PR is brand awareness – more people will learn about you. You should see more organic search and direct traffic to your website (as more people search and find you) and referral traffic (traffic from other sites) will go up with people clicking through from online articles. All that new traffic should get you more people enquiring and buying from you. I’d suggest most publicity is good publicity (don’t be a snob – it’s all backlinks and exposure) and get out there as much as you can.

5. You’re too targeted – my method is this – be as broad as possible – your little niche is included in everybody. Too often people say my demographic are ’21 to 21½ year olds with red hair, a beautiful smile, who like small dogs, holidaying in Ibiza and walks on the Welsh mountains’. That’s great to know but not very useful for your PR efforts. PR is about getting coverage – you want to offer journalists content they can use – the more general the better – 9 times out of 10 it’s a show of what topics you are an expert on rather than your content being published verbatim. PR is a mass-appeal, broad exercise – it’s the dynamic in the water to fish. The time to be targeted is later on (through remarketing – ads (engaging with your website users), newsletters and sales pitches.

How to fix it – offer regular, engaging content with broad appeal. As an agency we send out a plethora of content – not all marketing related. We want backlinks and exposure. Don’t be so precious that the press page on your website remains empty!