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Common PR Mistakes: Making Unsubstantiated Claims

Beneath the Cover,publishing, marketing, writing a book, platform, gravity wellA common book-promotion public relations mistake is to make unsubstantiated claims. You’ll turn off readers and buyers.

Don’t exaggerate or sensationalize your ideas, findings or services. In your effort to reach your target market continually during your public relations campaign, it’s difficult to present on a consistent basis fresh and exciting material. And as a result you may be tempted to stretch a point or claim a fact in order to generate more attention from journalists and reporters and bloggers. Don’t do it. Sure, politicians lie all the time and don’t seem to get in trouble with their falsehoods. But you’re not a politician – you’re an expert in your field. And that’s your reputation on the line.

If the media pick up on your unsubstantiated claim and then state it as a fact in a story – without fact-checking – the journalists or bloggers set themselves up for ridicule. You may have earned a mention in the process for your book and your idea, but in the process you’ve hurt another writer and damaged your own reputation for reliability and accuracy. It will take a long time for that journalist to trust you ever again. Or you may never ever regain that journalist’s trust. That’s a lot of loss for a mention of your book.

Use caution in any event whenever you deal with the media. Make sure that you can substantiate any claim you make. Very often during a conversation people might say something that the listener knows should be taken with a grain of salt. When you’re speaking with journalists, you’re not at home with friends: you’re representing yourself professionally with another profession. Don’t be caught in an exaggeration. In order for you to keep surprising people with interesting facts in your steady stream of press releases, parcel out the bits of information so that you are in a position to supply new information or new perspectives continually that will interest your target market and your key journalists.

In our next post, we’ll look at another common public relations mistake: failing to use the right media.

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