Posted by an Honored Guest
Ya know, every so often, a good crack up the back of the head is a blessing. I think it's human nature: You get into a groove and find comfort in doing things by rote. Regrettably, we tend to continue no matter how irrelevant or actually counterproductive the activity has gotten.
Well, here's a good smack! Today, we are thrilled to have David Henderson, the author of "Making News," an insider's look at media relations in a New Media world. Here the Emmy Award winning journalist and former CBS Network News correspondent addresses the #1 complaint about the Public Relations business.
Without further ado...SMACK!!
Only YOU can prevent PR spammers
Strumpette ran a guest perspective from David Henderson. David rails on PR people sending journalists press releases, something we’ve all heard a million times, yet we keep sending them…what is wrong with our industry? Honestly it still a...
Weblog: Engage in PR
Tracked: May 07, 13:30
How Not To Use LinkedIn for PR
I received a “pitch” – if you can call it that – via LinkedIn this morning. (If you want to see exactly what I saw, click the screen-cap pictured here at the blog.) This is a perfect example of how PR...
Weblog: PR Squared
Tracked: May 23, 10:59
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duh...and while we're on the subject, no amount of blogging will make a damn bit 'o difference if the story isn't sufficiently differentiable from others. Which is why i pick my clients very, very carefully. nothin particularly disruptive about my strategies, it's the clients who are. The only reason i get good coverage for them, to the degree that i do, is because i start with good stories. That way, I maintain credibility w/my cadre of "influencers"/editors/reporters, who regard me as a valuable resource of information, instead of a mercenary peddler of undifferentiable "feature-creep" or "pie-in-the-sky.
Jeff Schwartz, disrupter@large
Interesting post. Shared this with our media divison chief today. Similar post at our blog last week:
Why is the interweb full of self-righteous journos telling PR people how to behave? It takes understanding and professionalism from both sides - two traits that I haven't noticed particularly leaping at me from journalists I've dealt with in the past.
The press release, even its social media version (SMPR), is DOA.
This is a fine commentary on the importance of using the most important tools we have in Media Relations -- our relationship with the reporters and the TELEPHONE. Phone combined with short, snappy email pitches are the best way to cut through the news release Gordian knot.
"David rails on PR people sending journalists press releases, something we’ve all heard a million times, yet we keep sending them…what is wrong with our industry?"
BECAUSE YOU CAN BILL FOR IT!!!!!!
David, I am surprised that a journalist of your stature could make a statement like this without, apparently, any research whatsover:
"By best estimates, public relations people in America flood the news media with upwards of 75-million news releases each year. The two largest news release distribution services – PR Newswire and BusinessWire – alone distribute approximately four million releases every month. "
In two or three clicks, at the PR Newswire home page, I found an email link for Rachel Meranus, PRN's VP of Public Relations, and I asked her about the figures you cite, which seemed high to me. Her reply, WITHIN MINUTES, was:
"Definitely high. We issue about 1,000 a day as does BW give or take."
So, under 800K a YEAR between the two services versus your cite of 1M per MONTH.
As a 25-year PR pro, I don't disagree with you that press releases are sent out far too often and frequently without considering the actual editorial needs of the targeted journalists. But that doesn't support exaggeration for the purpose of strengthening one's editorial point, or lack of research.
It's a constant nightmare for some of my crisis management clients -- "credible sounding" posts on blogs that are not based on solid research. I expect that from amateurs, but not from a pro. How did this happen?
Bernstein Crisis Management LLC
First, it's not about the numbers but about the antiquated practice of the PR industry to believe that a press release will get attention. Let me repeat that ... the point of my piece was not about the numbers.
Second, Warren Buffett would not have purchased Businesswire if it only sent out 1,000 releases per day. My sources at PR Newswire told me that by February 20, they had carried 1.8 million releases -- wire, email, fax -- worldwide, month to that date. I am really not sure that people understand the magnitude of these services and how many releases are actually carried on the multitude of channels. Anyone ask Vocus on their traffic numbers? No matter how you view the numbers, they are staggering. But, remember, it's not about the numbers. It's about being smart in today's media environment.
Third, you need to take this from the perspective of a journalist. The perceived importance of what an organization has to say in a press release is far less than the relevance of the essential elements that today's highly competitive media needs for a story. Consequently, news releases are intentionally caught in spam filters.
Rather than dwell on numbers, may I suggest that you speak with the editors of some daily newspapers for their feedback. That's the point.
David, that was one of most eloquent rationalizations for inaccuracy that I've ever read. There are, in fact, very good uses for press releases, e,g, new product announcements, urgent business news, and to ensure that your news shows up in the in-boxes of anyone tracking your organization using any of the free or paid tracking services. But, as I said, I don't disagree that press releases are overused and misused, and I'm also not going to back down from the concept that accuracy is important to journalistic integrity. as per the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics.
David, do I infer correctly that your calculation is based on the numbers of press releases distributed?
1 news release sent to 1000 end points = 1,000 news releases sent out
That's about the only way I can see that your 75 million number has any chance of being a reasonable estimate.
The defensive criticism expressed in the comments to Henderson's piece have a certain Monty Python quality about them. The people who've gotten hung up on the numbers totally ... and cluelessly ... have missed the point he was driving home about PR's obscene volume of most-often irrelevant and fluffy "press" releases. Maybe they should wake up and smell the "B-S!"
In the general scheme of things, press releases aren't the blight on the industry that they're made out to be. Not to diminish the importance of a well-timed, well-targeted pitch and email, but sometimes journalists just need a news brief. Perhaps it's a new product, special event or a marketing/ad campaign announcement. If PR folks were forced to breathlessly pitch and email every key journalist with every bit of news, we'd be wasting their time and ours. A short news release that provides the facts isn't a bad thing.