I don’t know how much PR people are paid for putting out press releases, but it’s either not enough or way too much. I just got one in my inbox with the following subject header: “Octagon Jewellery Co. Ltd, Hong Kong chooses Datavision to implement LGX Info and JewelVision ERP”. Now if that means anything to you, you’re welcome to the scoop. I have not heard of any of these companies or products. None of them. The fact that the email began
Dear Jeremy Jeremy,
didn’t raise my confidence levels. I haven’t been called that since junior high school, and even then, only accompanied by jauntily melodied taunts about the size of my calves/ears/biceps/bobble hat. The email then continues
Below is a press release entitled ‘Octagon Jewellery Co. Ltd, Hong Kong chooses Datavision to implement LGX Info and JewelVision ERP’.
Just in case the fact that the subject field didn’t drive that particular information home. Press releases. One day we won’t have them anymore. Until then, I intend to kick and scream with every lame-o, poorly written, irrelevant, marginal, meaningless and tritely written one that lands in my inbox.
Assuming that was written by someone who considers him/herself to be in public relations, I apologize on behalf of the public relation/media relations industry. (I put the disclaimer because I’ve known some company execs who think they can write just because they can type.)
The biggest problems with media relations are 1) Lack of journalistic writing skills and 2) not writing for your audience/thinking like your audience.
Maybe your post should be sent to the good folks at badpitch.blogspot.com.
Yep, that sucks.
But here’s a question from someone who knows tons of great, thoughtful PR pros: how many GOOD pitches have you received? How many PR people have helped you write a great article? Can we hear about some success stories, too?
Sometimes a carrot works as well as a stick. 😉
Fair point, Todd. The fact that this one stood out is perhaps a good sign. And while there are dozens of press releases I’ll read and discard, at least I can quickly get a sense of what is going on, why I’ve been sent it, and the event’s significance. I don’t think every press release has to be personally tailored for each recipient (though I’d argue 10 such emails are worth 1,000 uncustomized mailings). But the ones that always pique my interest are those that quickly convey why I should be reading it, either by clear writing or by an extra line or two before the press release putting it in context. Here’s a good one from Opera, for example:
Faster surfing on Windows Mobile:
The Opera browser now available for Pocket PC (this second line doubled as the subject header)
Oslo, Norway – May 31, 2006 – Opera Software today released Opera Mobile 8.6 for Windows Mobile, finally offering Pocket PC owners a fast and user-friendly Web surfing experience on their devices. Opera Mobile 8.6 for Pocket PC takes full advantage of the larger screen and higher resolution of PPC devices by offering tabbed browsing and surfing in horizontal landscape mode. The browser is based on Opera’s newest core code and runs on Windows Mobile 5 and 2003 SE. Opera Mobile for Pocket PC is available from http://www.opera.com/mobile and comes with a free 30-day trial.
Bang. One headline, one paragraph, and I know everything I need, conveyed in a direct, lively, jargon-free couple of sentences.
You’re kidding… you’ve not heard of Octagon and LGX? Where have you been?
I hope you replied to them with a link to your blog entry :p
Actually, I’ve long thought that traditional fake-news-story-format press releases have long outlived whatever limited usefulness they once offered.
I wrote about that last summer: “Let’s put press releases out of their misery”
– Amy Gahran
Amy, I don’t think it would make any difference – a badly written press release will just get translated into a badly written blog entry…