Here are the Seven Deadly Sins of public relations! While you won’t be eternally damned by breaking one of them, they are key PR rules to follow.


In our careers we all start from the bottom, doing call-backs to journalists, researching media lists, clipping coverage and occasionally, making coffees. But sometimes when the office gets overwhelmed, such as when your brand or a client goes into crisis mode due to a mistimed tweet, it needs to be all hands on deck.

Pride and seniority should not get in the way of ensuring the best outcomes. No one is above any task in a PR office. Remember, pride comes before a fall and it should not come before you helping out your colleagues in times of crisis, no matter how small the task. Most offices couldn’t run without the efforts of the most junior team member.


Getting media coverage for the sake of it is not what PR is based on. While it’s fantastic to see your brand or your client’s name in print, strategies need to be targeted to the business’ audience, otherwise your effort is wasted.

Don’t be greedy by chasing any media coverage possible. Look at the quality of coverage you are getting and ask yourself if it is reaching your target audience.


Keeping up to date with what your competitors are doing, who their new clients are or any great campaigns they are involved in is a great way to stay on trend and industry focused. But don’t get so wrapped up in what your competitors are doing that you lose focus of your own campaigns.

In a PR agency, your job is to do the best you can for your client, even if they don’t have the most exciting products or services, it is your job to find the story within their business to share.


If a journalist makes a mistake, don’t get angry, there is no point. You don’t want to damage that relationship. You can point it out to them and make suggestions to fix it (print a correction, etc.) but ensure to show respect for them as a person and for their role.

When contacting them to let them know about the error, take a moment to calm down – don’t press send for at least ten minutes. You don’t want to regret something you have said.


Every PR person dreams of getting that ultimate piece of coverage, whether it is a slot on primetime or a profile piece in a top-selling newspaper. But while it is great to have goals and something to work towards, don’t forget about other places to get your messages heard.

Forsaking smaller coverage in the chase for one big piece is not a smart way to do PR. Your client or brand wants to be reaching as much of its target audience as possible and it is your job to find those opportunities for them.


As PRs we spend a lot of time and energy creating interesting pitches to send to journalists. But even if it is the best pitch you think you have ever written, don’t get too excited and start pitching it out left, right and centre. Especially not to several journalists at the same publication.

A newsroom is a small place and a journalist will eventually figure out that you have sent the pitch to one of their colleagues. If it happens they are likely to neither want your story or run it. You are better off targeting one journalist and then, depending on why they rejected the pitch, send it to someone else at a later date.


Don’t be lazy with your strategy. Writing a media release and then sending it out to every publication vaguely within your target market is not a way to do PR. Spend time reading the publications you want to get coverage in, finding out the interests of different journalists, the different sections of a publication, watch TV news or morning shows, listen to a range of different radio shows.

While it is a lot of effort in the beginning, it will show up later in your PR results in a positive way, making you and your client very happy.

These are just seven sins of PR, there are many more. What are some that you can think of? Are you guilty of any of them?


Catriona Pollard
BY Catriona Pollard ON 13 July 2012
Director, CP Communications, which provides specialist PR and social media strategies that achieve positive media coverage, increased brand awareness and improved sales results.