Press Releases Suck

July 14, 2015

I was talking to a reporter the other day about a new product my client was launching, and at the end of the conversation when we were about to schedule an interview I told him I’d send the press release under embargo as background for the call. He said, “Don’t bother – releases are [insert expletive], I want to see real information about what they’re announcing.”

Therein lines the yin and yang of press releases. Which master to serve?

Lest we forget, our job is to serve the media, who have told us they’re sick of seeing 100’s of “thrilled, pleased, and excited” spokespeople a day being quoted in releases and just as many “first “and “only” products being announced. By allowing these statements to creep their way into releases, we lose credibility for our clients and ourselves with the media.

But, I’m also a realist, and would I rather spend my time fighting with a client or pitching reporters (answer: pitching). As the mom of an 11-year old, I know how to pick and choose my battles – is it more important for my daughter to brush her teeth or have a clean room (answer: teeth, because braces aren’t covered by insurance).

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At the end of the day, we serve two masters. I envy the CEO or CMO who walks into a room full of PR experts (the board) and gets told to make these kinds of changes. They don’t know the difference, and the decision is clear. I also envy reporters, who quickly scan pitches/releases as use them as a litmus test to decide which announcements to cover and which ones don’t pass the BS sniff test.

But, I empathize with the PR person. For us, there is no right or wrong answer. We must continue to pick and choose our battles, just like we do with our kids.

 

Frances

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