You know what’s scary - aside from the hoard of small yellow minions begging for your hard earned candy? The things that are scariest for us, don’t often translate to the masses such as the ever-present pressure to justify PR value to clients.

It’s your job to secure press, actively disseminate your client’s story and report our successes in a concise way. That’s a pretty tall order for one person, but it’s manageable. Below you’ll find the one PR anti-playbook you need to keep your reporting procedures in check. Avoiding these 7 Deadly Sins of PR reporting will give you the leg up you need as you begin closing out Q4.

Not knowing your audience

Have you ever been in a meeting with a client and noticed your client is repeating points you’ve previously stated but in a less informed manner? That’s probably because you weren’t aware of the PR expertise gap in between you and your new client.

Know who you are talking to. A Director of PR at a large company may understand industry terms whereas a startup founder with little prior PR experience would be lost.

Make sure when you develop your report, to include simple descriptions for the PR jargon we commonly use. It might be helpful to reference other ways things are described through other disciplines as well: placements = backlinks.

Not agreeing on what metrics matter.

Spend the time debating the KPIs. It’s easy to fall in love with a potential client’s mission and products enough to want to just start pitching!

Taking the time at the beginning of the contract to understand the client’s growth goals and plans will assist you in setting benchmarks and goals for your PR team. For example, a launch/funding schedule would be very helpful in planning where you’ll have “news gaps” to fill in for thought leadership pieces whether it’s long-form blog content or speaking opportunities


Overwhelming your team with too much information

I’m guilty of this one more often than I’d like to be. My team refers to me as the “dork” of the group. Meaning, I spend about 75% more time looking over content data than anyone else on our team. Because I spend so much time overseeing our internal trends, I tend to share more than what’s needed … too often.

To fix this, we’ve developed a few ways of selecting which KPIs to report internally, here’s a handy tip from Rebekah Iliff in Forbes:

Tip: “Have you already worked on a lengthy report? Try whittling it (or any piece of communication with an executive) to 30% of its original form to deliver the ideas more efficiently; I like to call this the "70% noise reduction rule". It’s difficult to do at first, but it really forces you to be direct.”

Not identifying which actions were taken

You may know your schedule and where your time and resources were spent, but your clients don’t. Give them a breakdown of all of the tasks you’ve accomplished as well as WHY those tasks were important to your overall goals.

Some clients might not want such a detailed list of actions once they’ve learned to trust your decision making; however, you should never assume this. Let them tell you when to stop over-communicating.

Only showing positive results

Show the good, the bad + the ugly so company leaders can have a fully informed strategy based on what works and what doesn’t. If a campaign didn’t perform as intended, there should be other nuggets or insights explaining why it didn’t so the next time you pitch a strategy, you’ll know what steps to avoid.


Not supporting your report with industry trends

“Data and trends applicable to your industry and job role can be very powerful, and legitimize your results by comparing them to set benchmarks and best practices”. By comparing your findings to industry standards, it helps your clients to understand where they sit on the vast spectrum of companies that service their clients.

They’ll also appreciate your understanding of their industry not only on a qualitative level but also from a quantitative standpoint.

Not providing recommendations

As a PR professional, you should have a full understanding of your report as well as the next steps you should take in achieving the results you want. Delivering these numbers with a set list of next steps will give the client more confidence in their ability to trust your decision making.

Make sure your whole team is on the same page ahead of time to reinforce support on the initiatives and recommendations.

Hopefully none of these 7 deadly sins spooked you away from client servicing. Avoiding them will help you show clear value for the PR you do for your company and clients. Have sins to add? Shoot us a tweet and we’ll share your PR best practices in future content.

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