10 Ethical Practices that Garner Good PR
Discover the key ways to establish and maintain good PR relationships to enhance your small business’ media coverage
Ensure research and statistics are genuine and based on a viable and relevant sample
The PR team for a high-profile beauty product received negative media attention when they issued a press release claiming to have worked with a team of Cambridge mathematicians to analyse which female celebrity had the sexiest walk. The story secured national media coverage but it later emerged that the survey had been carried out internally at the PR agency and the results had been pre-defined, causing significant embarrassment for all concerned.
Secure approval of any third-party info from the person or company in question
Related to the story above, the Professor quoted in the press release had not given his approval of the copy and later denounced it as factually incorrect and misleading, further discrediting the PR team’s reputation.
Read the publications you are targeting
This sounds like an obvious point but you would be amazed by how many journalists complain that business people and PR practitioners have no idea of the format, tone or content of their publication. Do your research and find out what sections the publications carry and where your story could potentially fit, and then demonstrate this knowledge in your pitch.
Research the journalist’s background
Similarly, take the time to find out who the most appropriate journalist on each title is. Check back issues or the publication’s website to work out when, if ever, the journalist last covered the topic area you are pitching. It may be that you have an angle or opinion that they haven’t considered before, and it will demonstrate that you have taken the time to understand their current positioning on a given subject.
When it comes to PR, the well-worn phrase that ‘honesty is the best policy’ is true. This boils down to not positioning yourself as an expert in a subject that you really know little about, not issuing false company information to make things seem more positive and not shirking your responsibilities when something goes wrong.
If you don’t want it repeated – don’t say it
Don’t ever say say anything that you aren’t happy to see in print, even if it’s ‘off the record’. You should also consider why you wouldn’t want to be quoted directly on that particular issue – this probably suggests that you know it’s not really the right thing to think or be doing.
Refrain from criticising competitors
A business leader openly putting down the competition looks unprofessional and petty, and ultimately only reflects badly on them. Someone may well try and lead you into saying something negative but try to avoid being dragged into such behaviour.
Maintain communication with everyone involved in the PR process
Whether you’re working with an agency or handling communications in-house, it’s vital that all concerned have access to the information and resources needed to do their job. This means sharing relevant reports and plans, ensuring key spokespeople are bought into the process and prepared to give their time and knowledge, and setting realistic and achievable targets so that effective measurement can be conducted.
Respect corporate and personal privacy
If you are privileged enough to be given access to highly sensitive information – whether to do with company figures, plans for the future, HR or client management issues – it is your duty to understand what the boundaries are in terms of incorporating this into your communications. It may sometimes be possible to use a sanitised, anonymous version of the facts to back up a point, but nothing that reveals the potential identity of the company or individual.
Always deliver on your promises
We’ve all done it: promised to send an urgent document and forgotten to actually do so. Such mistakes are forgivable but let someone down too often and yours or your business’ name will soon be discredited. Yes, we’re all busy people but journalist’s lives are ruled by constant deadlines, which are often extremely tight. So, if you say you are available for an interview at a certain time then you should try your best to keep that arrangement. Gaining a publication’s trust is one of the most valuable things you can do in building and retaining an ongoing and mutually beneficial relationship.