Cool, calm and connected

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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.

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