Writing for PR Week, Senior Account Executive, Sam Mohr examines honesty and creativity in PR.
We’ve all been asked to sell a story no one wants to hear, through a press release that we know nobody will want to write about. Too many PRs then choose to endure that embarrassing phone call to a journalist, hoping to quickly hear the word ‘no’ and avoid further embarrassment from the other end of the line.
For both the PR and the journalist that 30-second phone call was a complete waste of time, and most importantly a waste of the client’s investment.
Back in July, TechCrunch ran a post arguing that the press release is dead, now purely designed to please clients.
If PRs are creating press releases purely to appease their clients, then they are failing them.
Press releases aren’t dead. Used correctly a good release can provide interesting, relevant information in a concise format, and will arguably sell itself to the media as a result.
Public relations relies heavily on proper consultancy. Our clients don’t pay us purely to be press offices. We are more than glorified call centres.
Sending a dull, irrelevant press release to an enormous media list isn’t going to help anyone, no matter how many times it uses the words ‘disruptive’ and ‘innovative’.
This approach is likely to alienate rather than foster positive relationships. A good PR should work directly with clients to craft and develop engaging, intelligent and interesting stories.
Be honest with your clients – if something isn’t going to work, just tell them.
That isn’t to say never write a release that you don’t think will be used. Most businesses have press releases on their website for internal comms or sometimes investor relations.
Producing two releases with different angles and focuses can be a really good middle ground: one release for the client’s website, and the other an engaging, relevant story for the media.
The skill of a good PR is making a release engaging and relevant while still including key client messages.
Creativity is key, especially as publications focus less on company news and more on analysis and features.
Press releases need to be focused on why company x has done y in response to issue z, before containing some succinct thoughts from a spokesperson as to what the news means for the wider industry.
The parameters of PR have changed, but the press release is far from dead.
Good stories exist, but they must be found, positioned and communicated correctly before being given to the right contacts at the right time.
Failing to be creative, ignoring industry movement and journalist demands, and opting to issue an untimely irrelevant product update release is a dangerous path to take.
Our clients rely on our creativity. We’re consultants, not just press offices.