I recently read a blog titled “Die! Press release! Die! Die! Die!” Take a look at it for yourself here.
After my first read through, I considering titling this post “Yikes! Press release! Yikes! Yikes! Yikes!” but a second look helped ease my frazzled PR heart. I did what my teachers at Harding have trained me to do — I conducted a bit of a communications audit.
Here’s what I found:
- This post is from 2006. I was in sixth grade and completely unaware and unconcerned with press releases. Maybe they were as terrible as dear Tom portrays in his rant.
- If you can make it past the first six paragraphs — or ‘chunks’ as they’ve been so lovingly termed in today’s lingo — he actually offers some beneficial advice on what a journalist would like to see in a news release.
- The word ‘spin’ appears eight times. Perhaps the connotation associated with that particular word was not so negative in 2006, but I’d rather leave it out of a conversation about the proper way to write a news release today. Spin has a twisted background and a cringe-worthy connotation to PR professionals who strive to present fact and truth.
- I identify three changes in tone throughout the post.
- He starts with bitterness and rage, a journalist hardened to the PR industry after one too many useless press releases coming across his desk. I can respect that. I certainly have my fair share of rants when my buttons have been pushed one too many times. But if I want something to actually change, I’ve learned that sharing my angered thoughts typically gets me nowhere.
- He then moves to a business tone, a straightforward, ideal scenario of what he’d like a press release to look like. Here’s the part of the post that calmed me down on my second read-through. As a budding PR professional, I agree that this is a nice layout for a news release. Chunk important information together where it can be copy and pasted, rearranged or shared easily.
- But then he wraps it all up in a casual yet condescending “Here’s what you need to do, but I don’t know everything, so add your voice to the conversation and be my friend” tone. Yes, journalists and PR professionals have a responsibility to “partner in communicating truthful and factual information,” but I don’t quite agree with his approach in getting there.
While I don’t agree with Tom’s approach, I appreciate the meat in the middle. All in all, I think the definition of a news release has changed with the heavy move toward digital media, and I believe we are taking steps in the right direction.