Ranting Against Press Releases

    February 28, 2006

I read with some amusement (and agreement) Tom Foremski’s rant titled Die! Press release! Die! Die! Die!.

I believe it’s safe to say that his main beefs are laid out in this excerpt:

Press releases are nearly useless. They typically start with a tremendous amount of top-spin, they contain pat-on-the-back phrases and meaningless quotes. Often they will contain quotes from C-level executives praising their customer focus. They often contain praise from analysts, (who are almost always paid or have a customer relationship.) And so on…

Press releases are created by committees, edited by lawyers, and then sent out at great expense through Businesswire or PRnewswire to reach the digital and physical trash bins of tens of thousands of journalists.

This madness has to end. It is wasted time and effort by hundreds of thousands of professionals.

He goes on to propose a solution that involves assembling and tagging the raw materials that usually go into making a press release. It all sounds a bit odd to me, but I’m not usually the primary target of most press releases. Of course, that doesn’t seem to stop them from ending up in my inbox.

I think the real solution is for journalists to do their homework on announcements. Rather than trying to be “first” with a story (which rarely happens on big announcements unless you break the embargo), be most informative. Be the one who sees news for what it is, not what the company says it is.

Would that behavior actually be rewarded by editors and readers?

I have no idea. History suggests otherwise. More on that (and my new favorite book) later.

Jeremy Zawodny is the author of the popular Jeremy Zawodny’s blog. Jeremy is part of the Yahoo search team and frequently posts in the Yahoo! Search blog as well.

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