Ah, the humble press release.
From nine years as a journo receiving them to another seven as a comms officer writing them, I’ve rarely been far from those carefully-crafted, re-crafted, re-re-crafted and tortuously-approved bits of purple prose.
In my newspaper days, I’ll admit, they could occasionally be a god-send when a space needed filling at 7pm on a Sunday.
But a significant majority were annoying, many did the senders’ clients more harm than good and I reckon a good 83% included pointless statistics from a survey that never really took place.
And that was before the “Hi, it’s Crystal from Poncey PR – just checking you got our release about the unique new radiator launch” follow-up call.
Nowadays, of course, I’m doing less and less (I don’t think I’ve broken my press release duck for 2013) – a trend that will continue as the year progresses.
But as we move away from the time-honoured tradition of shovelling stuff out to influential hacks and hoping for the best, it’s worth recalling a few, tongue-firmly-in-cheek, golden press release rules*:
• All awards ceremonies are to be described as “the Oscars of the (insert relevant industry) world”. They should also be referred to as “prestigious” at least once.
• All new products/projects/schemes are “unique”. Nothing like it has ever been seen or done before, d’you hear me?
• Notes to Editors should always be longer than the release itself and are an ideal dumping ground for the mind-numbing crap that has to be mentioned, but you can’t bring yourself to include in the main body of the release.
• When being quoted, everyone – and I mean everyone – must be said to be “absolutely delighted”. Particularly when announcing a prestigious award win or unique product launch.
• If pushing the boat out and attaching a picture, a line-up of suits is preferable – ideally clutching a big cheque.
There are many more press release sins, I’m sure. And yes, *I have been guilty of every single one…