So it is that time of year, when we think back on all of our past successes and failures. Here are the most notable PR blunders that we've seen cross our desktops in the year. We have removed the actual names of the offending parties, just to make it a more sporting game. The hard part of this piece was limiting it to just the ten biggest.

  1. Berating the reporter for non-responsive emails. This includes: cc'ing the boss about a reporter's behavior, intimating that a reporter was in bed with one of the client's competitors, and USING ALL CAPS. Totally not cool. Wearing my reporter's hat, I don't care for it when a PR person tries to go over my head. Wearing my editor's hat, it doesn't impress me when a PR person comes crying because they didn't get the coverage they wanted. Focus on building a relationship with me and my colleagues, rather than a single story.

  2. Calling after emailing some news. See above about berating. Once is enough for contact. Twice is annoying. Thrice means you go to the back of the queue. I do look at my emails. Assume no response from me means I am not interested. Realize that every day I get dozens upon dozens of requests to "have the CEO brief you on this amazing trend." Also, if you email multiple people here at RWW, don't expect any of them to answer. The more is not the merrier.

  3. Stating this is the "first ever thing" when it most certainly isn't. Don't you think I would check? Shouldn't you challenge your client to provide more details and specifics and you'll find out they really aren't the first. And don't argue with me. If I don't think it is the first, accept this and move on. We always have the last word.

  4. Not answering a direct question for more information with specifics. I am on deadline. Seconds count. Get your ducks in a row before calling me. You would be amazed how many emails and press releases omit basic information, such as pricing. "We don't publish pricing because we are a Web service and every deal is custom." Still not an excuse.

  5. Starting a conference call with more than three people on it: you (PR rep), me, the client is all that is needed. Actually, we don't really need you on the call. But more than that isn't going to end well. It is hard to ask a question when so many people are on a conference call. And speaking of which, don't just read me a script either. Interact and ask me real questions about what I am interested in. Don't know what I am interested in? Try reading my clips, and more than the one that the client is berating you for not appearing in too.

  6. Insist on making it slide-by-slide through the entire 57 slide PPT deck. Three slides should be enough. Or none at all. See above. The less scripted your presentation, the more I will actually listen. Calls shouldn't last more than 20 minutes. (The graphic is from Marilyn Snyder's site, where she helps you learn how now to do this.)

  7. Don't schedule a Webex to show me slides without any demo, particularly after I said that I wanted to see a demo. Listen to me please. Better yet, give me an eval account to your client's new whizbang Web service and I can try it out on my own and not tie up everyone's time. If it really requires hand-holding, then perhaps it isn't ready for the press to look at it either.

  8. Don't send me an analyst's report without a URL where I can actually download it and read it. I don't want your summary, if I am interested; I want to read the report. A link to a lead-gen capture page doesn't count. Same goes for the press release: you would be amazed how many releases aren't posted on the client's website.

  9. If you want me to do an embargo, play fair with all of my competitors. And be specific about times and dates. Yes, I can get confused sometimes. Put the expiration date information on each piece of correspondence, because sometimes I forget. Better yet, forget embargoes entirely. And understand that embargoes also complicate my ability to reference something that won't appear on your client's website until the due date. We like to actually check our outbound links before we post the article containing them.

  10. Remember we have a comments/discussion section for the following things that you are free and welcome to use:
    • Your client was not mentioned in my article, but does offer these amazing things and you want me to write a separate piece on them. Use the comments.
    • You would like me to make these additional points that I didn't mention in my article. Use the comments.
    • The CEO has a different take on things than I. S/he is entitled to that opinion, and is welcome to post a comment.
    • You have this great case study about a customer using your client's tech. Post a link to the website where you have more info.

    Let's see if we can make it through the first week of 2012 without any of these mistakes. Or I could post the first offender in one of the comments. You have been warned.