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My guess is that you need fewer people than you think to edit your press releases.

I once worked in an organization with approximately twelve employees. When it was time to send out a press release, five of the twelve people (if you include me) and one external person were involved in drafting and editing the release.

It was insane.

I, the so called “media” guy, would do the initial draft and then a collection of academics and researchers (the organization was a think tank) would look at the thing and piss around over words.

This organization was scared shitless of mistakes. As a result, it “shipped” so infrequently and languished in the dark ages in terms of technological adoption. It was the classic stereotype of a non-profit too frightened to innovate or really win.

There were several harmful byproducts of this press release editing process:

  • The press releases regularly shipped late. So many cooks had to find the time to edit the releases, so they took ages to get out the door.
  • The final release looked nothing like the initial draft. In and of itself this is not a bad thing. However, because the communications team did not have final say, the initial media hook in the releases sometimes became blurry. This hurt the amount and quality of coverage. Too many cooks with a lack of media knowledge spoiled the broth.
  • It was demoralizing. The message I received from almost half the staff editing the release was “We don’t trust him to do his job.”

I get that you need a quality control system for your releases. I get that this involves having editors from multiple perspectives/departments look at things.

The amount of editors will change based on your announcement. Sometimes you need a whack of ’em.

For instance, if you have killed people via contaminated product, you better make sure things are tight release wise! Consult lawyers aplenty before hitting send! If you’ve got a release about a sponsorship announcement for your brand new charity event, a bunch of eyes will have to look at its content. Same if you’ve got a new research study coming out. The way you frame the findings has to be accurate.

Though I am all for collaboration and crowdsourcing, very little that is truly great is designed by committee. Involving more people – especially people who are not trained to understand the nature of news and media – is likely to water down your release and harm your chances for coverage.

Communications peeps: EXPLAIN this to your scared as shit, ‘oh-my-god we might piss off someone’ boss. You’re on the hook re media coverage and if there’s a PR crisis. So you better get coverage and there better not be a shitstorm. They need to trust you.

Executives: Remember, you don’t need an army to edit a release. It’s not a “make work project” for bored people armed with red pens or track changes features. Let your Comms team do its job. Or, if you can’t trust them, fire them all and buy a new one.

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