7 things I hate about press releases

Don’t let the title of this post fool you. I am not gonna hate on the press release. I think it has utility and is still an important arrow in the quiver of PR peeps (especially when multimedia content is included a la SMR or Multimedia Press Release).

That said, I have a few gripes. Here are 7 things I hate about press releases:

1) How they tie to perceptions of my profession. When I tell people what I do for a living, they think my primary purpose is to write, edit and hawk releases.

2) Their role in scoring coverage . Lots of folks think all you have to do to get media coverage is write a release and send it. Things are just a tad more difficult in reality. Just a tad…

3) Their death. ‘New media people’ have been proclaming the ‘death’ of the press release for a long time. Yet, everyday, gazillions of are sent. Maybe these folks’ brains are what’s dead?

4) The fourth estate’s view of releases. Journalists – especially those who go to conferences and sit on those panels where they hate on PR people – always say how much they hate them but, as soon as you speak to them about a news story, they ask, “Do you have a press release?”

5) The number of  people it takes to write one. In most organizations, when it is time to send a release, a group larger in number than the signatories of the Declaration of Independence gathers and writes/edits the thing by committee. A really fucking fun process if you work in PR!

6) The quotes! I’ve read enough CEO quotes to believe that anyone who occupies the top job in an organization is  always either “thrilled,” “honoured” or “overjoyed” by any piece of positive news and “deeply concerned” or “saddened” by anything negative. Don’t CEO’s have other emotions? Not according to most press releases.

7) The language! Only in a press release will you find the expressions “market leader”, “game changing”, “cutting edge”, and “leveraging core competencies” in the same sentence.

Do you have things that bother you about press releases? If so, please add a comment.

6 Comments

  • Krista says:

    Ha! You’ve done a good job of summarizing many of my pet peeves with regard to press releases (especially #5 – I have lots of experience with that issue having worked in pharmaceutical PR!)

    Another one I might add is how embargoes can hinder our ability to develop relationships with the media. There’s a big scuffle amongst scientific/healthcare reporters about the issue of press release embargoes. Embargoes seemingly serve no other purpose than for companies to say “we have something to say– but please don’t write about it until we give you permission!” Puh-leez, that’s just ego if you ask me…and I can’t say I blame the reporters who don’t take to these orders either.

  • Tks Krista,
    It seems as though the embargo is less and less loved. A number of major media companies have said they won’t abide by them. I’ve found them to be more trouble than they’re worth.

    Thanks for the comment!

  • Haroun Kola says:

    I haven’t written many Press Releases and read your article to begin remedying that and I thought it is hilariously funny 🙂

  • Thanks Haroun. Glad u had a chuckle 🙂 JW

  • A favorite of mine is the spin-off of #2… a panicked phone call or email stating, “[our competitor] got a big story on Google Alerts!”

    (and undoubtedly said competitor is a “market leader” with “game changing” “cutting edge core competencies”…)

  • tsakali_gr says:

    As part of the PR family across the world the worst part in copywriting a press release, is when I am called to translate and localize the quote: I know 99% that it won’t be published, the client is absolutely convinced that the quote is the most interesting part of the release and usually you end up reproducing a statement, that has no meaning to the local market and is absolutely rubbish.

    I am sure many PR executives will recognize a comical part of their daily tasks in one -or more- points above.

    Kudos for the article!

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