Amateurism Hurts PR FieldBy: Andy Marken
Well developed press materials can be a powerful part of a firm's total public relations program. They get information on the company's product developments, services, personal changes, and financial reports where they will do the most good ... to the pertinent publications and on target Ezines. Even though many members of the press won't readily admit it; they are also the springboard for major editorials by the editor on the company, its products, and its industry position.
Knowing this, we find it appalling that news releases, the most basic form of external communication for any firm, receive such little care and attention. Poor and incomplete news releases and publicity practices, not only make the issuing firm look bad, they insult an editor's intelligence.
To validate the above statements, we interviewed more than 50 business, financial and computer/communications publication editors. We talked with an equal number of on-line editors. Most of them said that they receive an average of 200+ releases per day over the wire, in the mail and sent electronically. More than three-fourth of the releases they receive are so weak or amateurish that they go directly into the wastebasket (electronic or physical).
Gauge Editorial Needs
How should publicists go about providing information that will be used?
There is usually a lot going on in an organization that is of interest to an editor. The good "stuff" isn't delivered to you on a silver platter. A good public relations person has to be like a good reporter and dig out the information.
Then the person who is writing the publicity has to determine what the information's worth is to the company, to the editor, and to the reader. If it doesn't serve all three, forget it.
Once you have found company information worth announcing, determine the publication(s) you want to target. It's quite simple for anyone who is doing PR to gauge the editorial requirements of a given publication or group of publications. All he or she has to do is read a few issues and study the editorial direction/ emphasis. It’s surprising – scary – how few people actually read the publications that cover their industry as well as their primary and secondary markets.
If the publicity writer is worth his or her salt, he or she will provide news releases that have the style, content, and necessary current angle to satisfy the publications' requirements.
Those are the releases that get published.
The Creative NEWS Release
Over the years, we have seen literally reams of releases that pass right over editors' desks, across their screens and into the circular file.
For the most part, the releases uniformly lack any spark of writing excitement, comprehension of news style, or the solid information that gets an editor interested and maybe even excited.
Here some basic guidelines our organization regularly follows when preparing news releases for the press:
If you analyze any business-oriented product category, it can't possibly be of interest to 200-300 business and trade publication readers. Yet a common practice with people who relate quantity to quality and who weigh clippings by the pound is to cast/spam releases to the four winds in hope that someone, somewhere, will find something of interest and print their gems of creative genius.
Even firms that are able to find information and present it in a way that might interest the editors often fall short when it comes time to getting the piece out.
Commonly voiced complaints of the Editors regarding the most simple of PR activities -- publicity handling -- include:
But this is a far cry from the marketing neophyte who feels that he or she has a hidden talent for writing and placing "masterpieces" for a company.
Publicity is a Powerful Tool
An organized, well-executed publicity program which is integrated into the firm's total effort can reap handsome results. It can:
© Copyright 1999, G.A.Marken, Marken Communications
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