As I work as a freelance journalist alongside my work as a PR consultant, I receive press releases as well as send them out. I probably receive about 30 a week, which is miniscule compared to many staff or fulltime journalists who will receive hundreds per day.
Being on the receiving end of lots of press releases does give me a chance to see what other PRs are sending out – and believe me, it’s not always a pretty sight. I’m constantly amazed at the typos and inaccuracies that appear (and the number of PRs who try to ‘recall’ an emailed release. Now of course everyone makes mistakes (and I’ll admit to one or two) but it’s obvious when a release hasn’t been proof-read. Top tip – never send out a release (or any other piece of marketing communication for that matter) that hasn’t been seen by at least two pairs of eyes.
What is possibly more depressing, however, is the number of press releases I see that have no story, no news. What it shouts to me isn’t that this is a PR professional that doesn’t know their job but in fact a client who doesn’t understand PR. I’ve had clients who want a press release sent out every month or even every week or fortnight. They don’t care what it’s about – so some poor PR has to write what they know is an appalling release that has absolutely no chance of being covered.
If you’re engaging a PR consultant or agency to promote you and/or your business, listen to their expertise. They’ll know what will get written about and what will get dismissed as puff or having no substance. Better to send two press releases a year with stories that get written about than to send six that don’t – because then your two genuine stories will just get lost in the dross.