Trylon Communications  - Volume I Issue 2
       

What Business are You In?

Now that companies can buy or access media lists and post press releases, some of them seem to think that the efforts of public relation professionals are superfluous.  They take the “do-it-yourself” approach a little too far, and find themselves with the kind of publicity and relationships with the media that they really don’t want.

While more journalists prefer e-mail versus other ways of receiving information (see last issue of our newsletter), the quality of press releases has sunk to a new low.  Press releases, once considered a positive way to spread news about a company, have become just another form of “spam” for most journalists.  An ad for a company with PRESS RELEASE over the top of it gets no more attention than a gnat flying around the jungle.

Even worse, many press releases now go out without the proper format – so even if a journalist wants to delve into the story, there is no contact information (or worse, the contact person knows nothing about the release!) and the story hits a brick wall.  Just one occurrence like this and the company can forget about ever getting a positive mention from that journalist.

Another example of poor in-house PR is sending press releases to the wrong journalists or editors.  This is a favorite pet peeve.  Blanketing the world with a press release is just about the fastest way to get blacklisted.  Clicking “select all” and “send” from a media software package is committing media hara-kiri.

Nobody ever seems to think that just possibly, a journalist will follow up on something that was sent to him or her.  Time and again one hears about companies that issue a press release, only to be unprepared for a follow-up call from the media.  Turning a potential story opportunity into a dead end is just another form of PR suicide.

Company executives are the last people you want deciding if a press release is newsworthy.  No offense, but we all tend to believe that there is a great story in every development in our respective companies, when an outside reader may wonder what is so earth-shaking about it.  The ability to determine what news to place in front of the media is a skill that can be overlooked and undervalued. 

Finally, lack of organization can kill a good story lead.  Journalists operate on deadlines, and professional public relation people not only understand that, they sympathize with it.  Therefore, when a journalist has a question or needs additional information, it should be available immediately.  How many times has a story been killed simply because documentation to support a press release was not available?

The information age and new technology bring wonderful opportunities, but they can also lead to disaster when taken too far.  When companies realize that they are far more efficient running their business and leaving the public relations to the pros, we are all better off.