Aide: Pappy, ain’t you gonna press the flesh?
Gov. Pappy O’Daniel: We ain’t one-at-a-timin’-it. We’re mass communicatin’!
PR Friends … at least I hope we’re still friends.
Steve Coomes and I have been kinda hard lately on some of the people who write press releases.
From our perspective, too often we’re sorting through poorly organized, poorly written releases trying to fill in the details. Really, the whos, whats, whys, whens and hows.
Which is time-consuming and expensive at an online news organization with modest resources. We’re spending too much time and money finishing the release you’re getting paid to write. Which doesn’t seem fair from where we sit.
Back in the newspaper days, it didn’t matter. There were interns, cub reporters and rookie sub-editors who had the time to take your release, call you or your client and fill in the blanks.
Today, we’re rushing to post news real-time. We simply don’t have time to finish what you started. I can’t stress that enough … a small group of people are rushing from about 6 a.m. to midnight to get to stories large and small.
We get about 200 emails each day at Insider Louisville, and most are wretched news releases. Not that the information is wretched. Most of the time, the information is important.
It’s the delivery vehicle that’s a bit flawed.
We do understand where you’re coming from … the second most crucial element in your business behind getting paid is pleasing your client.
A client who often doesn’t have a clue about news or the pace of the Internet. All they know is they’re paying you to celebrate their company or organization. IN ALL CAPS. With lots of exclamation points!
A press release is their victory lap, a chance to indulge in the tautology of team-building and self-congratulation: “This really was a team effort,” said Joe Smith, CEO of Smith Company. “Our dedicated team has given 110-percent to make this the best grommet company in the world.”
Invariably, news releases contain made up “quotes” no media outlet is going to use, filled with cliches. Also, entire companies and cities seem to have the supernatural, sentient ability to stand on two legs and speak.
Notice anything about these quotes, which are from actual press releases?
- Creative Food Group president Ali Isani said, “We are excited to be a part of a local icon such as Kentucky Ale. This is only the beginning to a great partnership with Alltech and Blue Grass Airport.”
- “The City of Louisville is very excited to serve as a catalyst for organizations such as the Healthcare Innovations Program (HIP) – Kentucky, put together events like this Code-a-Thon” said Ted Smith, Director, Department of Economic Growth and Innovation at Louisville Metro Government
- “We’re delighted that Toni has agreed to be our interim dean,” said Provost Shirley Willihnganz. “Our medical school needs continued strong leadership, and she will bring an extraordinary skill set to the job.”
- Magbooth is excited to be staying in the East Market District, or “NuLu” area of Louisville, which has supported the company from the beginning. “We are thrilled to keep the headquarters of Magbooth in NuLu where we first began, and to be counted amongst the amazing businesses in the area, all of which strive to promote a culture of sustainability and uniqueness for Louisville,” states Peter Tower, owner of Magnolia Photo Booth Co.
See, our readers don’t care that your client is excited, happy, thrilled or delighted. That’s a given. They just want to know what’s going on … the company your client’s business acquired. The number of people they’re hiring. The new restaurants, banks, stores and factories they’re opening. The special event they’re putting on.
The truth is, you’re playing from a position of strength. The print side has cut staff and is more reliant then ever on press releases. And they’re less and less likely to do anything but post them verbatim.
We, on the other hand, are getting stronger. We have more revenue. We have more hands and we sure as hell have a larger audience.
To paraphrase Tom Cruise, all we’re asking is, “Help us help you.”
Start by giving your clients a little tough love – smarten them up about what the public really wants to know.
And tell them this for me: “Insider Louisville is excited to be your vehicle for mass communicatin’. And I’d just like to thank Steve Coomes for making this a team effort.”