The Biggest Public Relations Mistake You Could Be Making

PR mistakes are made every day. If you don’t believe me, just check out a few of the major PR disasters in recent years. Of course, you probably don’t need to worry about facing a PR disaster of that magnitude, but you can still make costly mistakes that can cause serious damage to your brand.

Head ScratchingToday, I want to talk about a PR mistake that doesn’t get much attention. And if you ask me, it just might be the most prevalent PR mistake out there. In fact, there’s a good chance you’ve made (or are still making) this very mistake.

What is it? Not saying “thank you” often enough. Now, you might think that I’m exaggerating, but I’m serious. Not thanking others can lead to some serious consequences, including:

  • Causing friction with reporters
  • Making loyal customers feel unvalued
  • Leading to a drop in employee morale

Thanking Reporters Who Give You Coverage

Let’s get one thing straight: Reporters don’t owe you anything. They don’t have to cover your story if they don’t want to. They have hundreds (even thousands) of other stories they could cover. So, when they cover your story, they are doing you a favor.

Now, that’s not to say you should pucker up to kiss their butt, because you’re also helping them out by giving them a story their readers will be interested in. However, when a reporter gives you coverage-whether it be in a major newspaper or a small blog-you should always extend the common courtesy of thanking them. And don’t make it a “Thanks…but” either, because it makes you sound ungrateful and reporters get way too many of those (e.g. “Thanks for the coverage, but I thought the article was going to discuss bla bla bla…”)

Thanking Customers for Their Loyalty

You probably already know that it’s far more expensive to acquire new customers than it is to keep existing ones. That means customer retention should always be a priority.

One of the most effective ways to keep customers coming back for more is to show them how much you appreciate your business. There are several simple ways to thank your customers, including:

  • Train employees to thank customers – The simplest thing you can do is to train your employees to be friendly and to thank your customers. As consumers, we’ve all come across disgruntled employees before, and it leaves a bad taste in our mouths. A smiling employee who thanks customers for their business really can go a long way to keeping customers happy.
  • Send a “thank you” note – A handwritten “thank you” note is more effective than an email or a phone call because it tends to last longer. A phone call is over as soon as you hang up. Emails get deleted or pushed to the bottom of the inbox. Handwritten notes, on the other hand, tend to get held onto, and they show you put in the extra time to write and mail the note.
  • Offer special discounts to loyal customers – This is a win-win. When a customer gets rewarded with an exclusive discount, they feel like you appreciate their business, and it encourages them to make another purchase so they can use that discount, giving you more business.

Thanking Employees for Their Hard Work

Happy employees make for a more productive and successful business. Thanking your employees improves your relationships with them, and it makes them more eager to do the best job possible.

A few simple ways to thank your employees include:

  • Giving out awards (e.g. Employee of the Month)
  • Offering bonuses for a job well done
  • Accommodating time-off requests whenever possible
  • Writing personalized “thank you” notes that tell each employee what you appreciate about them

Well, the year is still young. So, in 2010, let’s all strive to say “thank you” a little more often.

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (, the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit:

Thanking a reporter? Are you nuts? This seems to be one of those things that differs across the Atlantic. In the UK if you thanked a reporter for running your stuff they would wonder why you are thanking them.


Well said. All too often we just “don’t take the time.” Although I don’t have it customized in my email “signature,” I always type it in each email as a reminder to thank anyone and everyone. Emails without a “thank you” could tend to come across far different when one is busy and profuntory. I’m passing this on to our CEO!


I have to agree with Craig. Handwritten thank you notes to reporters seems odd. Journalists shouldn’t be “doing you a favor.” As long as you’re providing them with newsworthy press releases, then the relationship is win-win.


I think the tone of the thank you matters when it comes to thanking journalists. If you’re too over the top, it can definitely make the reporter think maybe you pulled the wool over their eyes and they didn’t get the full story.

But I don’t see the harm in a simple “thank you” for accurate coverage.


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