Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Oops! I just killed the press release...

Posted by Tom Foremski - March 5, 2006

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

hands-bloody.jpgHere you go, the coup de grace on the delete-on-receipt press release:

PR professionals have an ethical duty to communicate their client's message in the most effective format and manner. The press/news release in its current format is not effective.

(And many journalists will give you the same feedback.)

I am one of its intended targets and I am using my own time and money to inform the PR community of professionals around the world, that sending out press releases in their current format, unchanged in decades, is not effective or that useful. I hate to see the enormous waste of human resources.

It would not take that much extra work to change the press release into a format in which it is more useful to me, and to many other journalists. Such as:

The press release should be changed in format: it should be new media ready, by which I mean give me the html source code, so I can more easily cut and paste sections and links; and give it to me in the font I'm using; or strip out formatting/font data so that I can impose my own cascading style sheet onto it.

Sections of it should be clearly tagged. That way I can write a news story, put my spin on it then paste factual information into the story and identify it as this is what the company said: it was founded in 1998; the ceo said; the stock quote; what the analysts said, the specs of the product, other relevant news story links, etc.

These things are facts and can be clearly shown as coming from the company. You can't spin facts.

Media and PR professionals need to work together as partners in communicating a truthful and honest message. That is an ethical approach and it is also the best use of people's time.


I would advise companies that work with PR agencies to ask them how they intend to modify their press releases and any other forms of communications, for the online publishing world. (Notice I'm not saying: for the blogging world).

If they tell you no modification is necessary then you should consider a savvier PR firm, imho.

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BTW, anybody interested in working with me on a proposed improved format press release please drop me a note at tom at siliconvalleywatcher.com. Please include "new media press release" in the subject line so I can fish it out of my terribly cluttered inbox :-)

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