Why Do Some B2B Public Relations Programs Fail?

Last month, I was invited to speak with the marketing committee at the Tooling and Manufacturing Association in Chicago about public relations. We had a good dialogue about how to develop an effective public relations strategy and maximize its impact on a limited budget (you can find the presentation here). As I was gathering my thoughts about the successful components of a B2B public relations program, I couldn’t help but reflect about the flip side as well.

I’ve had the benefit of being part of PR programs that thrive, and ones that struggle despite the PR team’s best efforts. Having been at the same agency for nearly 11 years, I’ve observed some common issues in withering programs:

  • It isn’t tied to a larger objective and then translated to something meaningful
  • Its activities and results are siloed and not integrated into the larger picture
  • It is constantly changing direction
  • It relies on poor metrics to communicate impact
  • It tries to do too much
  • It is tied to an old school approach to PR
  • It limits input to a handful of people
  • Its value is not supported by the people at the top of the organization


I’d argue that the last point is the most critical because it feeds so many of the other issues listed above. Unfortunately, it’s also the most out of your control. But, that doesn’t mean you should give up when you encounter unsupportive management or any of the other challenges listed above. In most cases, you can turn things around with a healthy dose of creativity, time and ongoing education and communication.

And if you feel that your hands are tied because there isn’t enough budget or resources, then it’s time to re-work your plan and get focused. That is often one of the biggest detriments to programs. You start trying to do so much that you become mired in the tactics and lose sight of the mission. When you narrow your focus, you can deepen the impact.

What other issues would you add to the list above? What advice would you offer to turn around a struggling program?

Photo by Carnie Lewis


Connect with Kellie:

Email: kellie@blisspr.com
Twitter: @kshe
LinkedIn: Kellie Sheehan