I talk to lots of editors, both print and electronic, and they cry a similar refrain when it comes to press releases: “Most of what I get is junk.”
Speaking as a former newspaper and magazine editor, the worst part of that scenario is that once an editor receives a press release that is junk, he or she is unlikely to open future communications from that business again, unless that business is a large corporation that cannot be ignored.
Since most of us don’t fall into that category, I can hear the flushing sound of far-too-may public relations campaigns swirling to the bottom of the toilet because their media communications are ineffective.
Why are 90 percent of all public relations junk? I think there are three primary reasons:
1. Those creating and distributing press releases or media advisories don’t understand their audience, which in this case is made up of busy, busy editors. Editors want news and compelling stories that resonate with their readers and viewers. To understand what specific editors want, you should study the publications and electronic media on your distribution list and create a profile of the kinds of articles and stories those editors run. Because editors are working to produce materials that their audiences want, these profiles vary only slightly from year to year.
2. Businesses fail to hire a public relations specialist or outsource the work to a consulting form. The result is that those businesses often produce worthless press releases and media advisories, resulting in no growth in their business and no profits from their public relations campaigns.
3. Businesses follow the advice of those consultants who urge their audiences to send out frequent press releases or to create faux media events.
Why do some consultants spread that kind of bad advice? I don’t know but I suspect it is because they don’t know how to conduct public relations campaigns. So their followers who may not understand media relations inundate editors with junk.
In conclusion, if you plan to use public relations as a tool to grow your business and you are not a media relations expert, either hire one or outsources the work. The only other alternative is to abandon the use of PR because those who do not know what they are doing are more likely to hurt their business as a result of their media relations efforts.
Lewis Green, Founder and Managing Principal of L&G Business Solutions, LLC, brings three decades of business management experience. L&G Business Solutions, LLC, represents his third company. Additionally, he held management positions with GTE Discovery Publications, Puget Sound Energy and Starbucks Coffee Company.
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