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PR mistakes inside and outside your control

By Marjorie Comer

Let's cover the big issue of external factors (that we can’t control no matter what) in public relations and what we can do about it!


A frustrated woman.When working as a vendor for a company, you need to always be on your “A” game. Sometimes when you aren’t at your highest performance, mistakes happen. Mistakes can also happen when you are on top of your game as well. It makes you feel worse when accidents happen that shouldn’t have happened. When a mistake happens – one you can control – you are often left with egg on your face.



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As a PR firm, you may experience things outside your control that leave you feeling frustrated, including:

  • Reporters’ availability or lack thereof
  • Discovering a reporter covered a similar story shortly before your pitch
  • News director’s discretion – a news director decides what news stories should receive top billing
  • Things companies and clients do, such as declining an interview because they believe a better opportunity is right around the corner
  • Outlets your clients do or don’t want coverage in 

While these are mistakes, they are missed opportunities, as well. While these missed opportunities can be frustrating, what’s even more frustrating are the mistakes we make that shouldn’t have happened. These mistakes may push you that much further from your overall goals and from being a resource to clients and reporters. 


Even the most intriguing and exciting topic can go unnoticed when mistakes are made, thus causing success to slip through your fingers.

  • Homework
    Often, entry-level PR professionals and people in a hurry aren’t doing their homework on who they should be reaching out to and pitching. Instead of researching, they are simply pitching whomever they can at an outlet, which means a possible great pitch never becomes a story because they don’t know who to connect with or aren’t building relationships with reporters.

  • Typos
    A common mistake that you can remedy by taking your time to proofread. Try reading the content out loud – sometimes you catch things you didn’t previously see when you read it aloud. Have other members of your team read the content, and utilize someone who specializes in proofreading and copy editing content. Proofreading shouldn’t be left to one person – a simple typo can cause more complications than you would expect for your company as a whole. Proofreading should always be part of your company’s process.

  • Too early
    Don’t get too ahead of yourself and your release. Double-check with your client when they are ready to release something. You don’t want to end up with egg on your face because you or a member of your team has released something before the client was ready or the whole PR team was on board. 


When you realize you’ve made a mistake, you should first acknowledge that you’ve made a mistake, fix it – if you can – and then continue to move forward. In my years as a PR professional, sometimes a simple mistake and a rejection from a reporter can be hard to swallow. You have to pull yourself back up and keep moving forward. 

Be aware of your previous “simple” mistakes and aim to fix and improve on them in the future. Mistakes can impact your success, so check out 15 mistakes companies make when hiring a PR firm – don’t let hiring the wrong PR firm be one of them.


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Marjorie Comer.Clients love Marjorie’s work ethic, speed and diligence. She has worked with Axia Public Relations since October 2011. Marjorie graduated from Rockhurst University with a Bachelor of Arts in communication and loves to cheer for her hometown Kansas City Royals. Learn more about Marjorie.


Photo by Alexander Dummer

Topics: PR tips

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