Bad Trend: Press Releases for Press Releases

Post written by Doug Quenqua

Note to PR professionals: Let your press release do the talking.

That is what it’s for, no? Your client or company has news to share, so you write up a press release and e-mail it to the relevant reporters. This is a good system.

But a troubling trend has taken hold. It seems lately that every press release we receive is prefaced by three to four introductory paragraphs in which the otherwise level-headed PR professional sending the e-mail describes — often in terms identical to those of the release itself — what the news is, why we would find it interesting, and how we can follow up to find more information.

Then comes the press release, which tells us what the news is, why we might find it interesting, and how we can follow up to find more information.

This never used to happen. Back in the days of faxed press releases, which some of us are just old enough to remember (we assume prior to that they were physically mailed, but we would have to rent some old journalism movies to be sure), nobody prefaced their news releases with a handwritten page explaining what to expect on the next page. So why now?

I have my theories. Perhaps PR people feel too much pressure to develop a one-on-one relationship with reporters, and press releases seem so impersonal in the age of digital over-sharing (just think of all the things Facebook has taught you about your “professional” contacts). Perhaps they are trying to make their release feel more like a privately shared tip, which is how most reporters prefer to get their information. There is also the fact that e-mail makes it easier than ever to pound out 500 word missives about any old thing.

But we all have less time than ever these days. So let’s do us both a favor. You keep the pre-release chit chat to a minimum–”Hey Doug, hope you find the following useful. Would love to hook you up with an interview if you have time. Thanks!”–and we’ll not use our Facebook status updates or Twitter feeds to bitch about you. At least not as much.

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