The Young Entrepreneur Council asked 12 successful young entrepreneurs to note one way that their online activity can lead to unforgivable public relations mistakes. Here are their best answers.
1. What's the Update?
When you launched your website, you probably wrote a bunch of sections such as "About Us," "Contact," etc. Don't forget to check back on those later on and make updates as necessary. Reporters make mistakes as it is--the last thing you need is for them to be getting outdated information on your company from your own website and then putting that in an article.
--Stephanie Kaplan, Her Campus Media
2. Hands Off Our Social Media!
While delegating or outsourcing social media isn't entirely problematic, entrepreneurs should always be abreast of what's being said and done on behalf of the company. Google Alerts and social media tools make it easy to stay on top of the company's digital footprint. Entrepreneurs are responsible--no matter what.
--Lisa Nicole Bell, Inspired Life Media Group
3. Retweet With Care
While it's easy to retweet articles or messages, doing so without care can lead to PR gaffes. Retweets can be viewed as endorsements, so all entrepreneurs should make sure that they take a few moments to review anything they intend to share with their followers. Do fact-check and ensure that you identify with the message and messager before you click RT.
--Doreen Bloch, Poshly
4. Don't Overshare Anywhere
Your Twitter, your Facebook, your blog are all places where journalists might look to connect with you. Make sure that your privacy settings are up to date on Facebook and you're not oversharing information on your other public facing social networks that might turn off a journalist.
--Nathan Lustig, Entrustet
5. Mass Email Blasts Are Bad
Don't buy a list of journalists' email addresses and send out a mass email to everyone. Don't add journalists to mailing lists without their permission. Don't send the same email to every journalist. If you can't at least customize a template to each person you email, you're only going to get minimal coverage at best. At worst, your emails will get sent straight to spam.
--Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting
6. Alcohol and Social Media Don't Mix
The simple mistake that all entrepreneurs must avoid is alcohol influenced social media communication. It may be tempting, but avoid the 2 a.m. tweets about your evening experiences. They can come back to haunt you.
--John Hall, Digital Talent Agents
7. Cut the Crap!
Don't BS reporters. Any publication worth anything will do its research and poke holes in your story. Just be honest and transparent. Authenticity is an incredibly valuable trait these days.
--Brent Beshore, AdVentures
8. Mixing Business and Pleasure
If you run a digital company (or any company that has a strong online presence), everything you do online represents your company. Your personal life becomes subjected to the same scrutiny as your professional one. Act accordingly.
--Yael Cohen, Fuck Cancer
9. Always Take the High Road
Don't ever talk negatively about your competitors, especially on social media platforms. What you may think is private could get picked up by a reporter and become an embarrassment to both your company and yourself.
--Steven Le Vine, Grapevine PR
10. Do What You Say You're Going To Do
Plans change, timelines shift, but overall, I think the more you can stick to what you say you're going to do, the better. Whether that means following up with journalists, or publishing your blog/newsletter on a regular basis, or even releasing your next product on time. Being timely shows that you're committed.
--Nathalie Lussier, Nathalie Lussier Media
11. Know the Power You're Dealing With
You can pay a lot of money to have a PR company craft your messaging, but they're all operating with the same bit of knowledge--you have no control over your message once it sets sail. Be careful, calculated and aware of all risks when crafting your message. Otherwise, it might come back to bite you.
--Christopher Kelly, Sentry Centers
12. Be Constantly Authentic
Companies need to be as authentic as possible in their communications. People trust and build relationships with those who tell the truth. If you mislead or indulge too much and people find out, you'll become untrustworthy by definition. Don't hide the truth, because the Internet finds a way to make the real truth public--with or without your endorsement.
--Lucas Sommer, Audimated