Thursday, 7 April 2011

Why the sign off process can kill a good press release

Is a badly written press release down to the PR or all the layers of people it must go through to get sign off?


Yeah that's really helpful
oh yeah this is gonna be so much better now.
It’s too depressing to cite examples of dreadful press releases here, but editors still get them daily. This could be because the PRs can’t write, in which case don't let them on the account until they can. Look at your training programme and your time investment in this, even the most clunky of junior writers can make great progress with some guidance and ground rules. But if you are paying someone to do your PR and it’s obvious they can write, then really I think you should just let them. But sadly that's often not what happens. 

There is another reason why editors receive such toe-curling, bland brochure-ware - and it's more common than you might think - and that's thanks to all the people that contributed to its creation. 

For the uninitiated, here's a typical  sign off cycle in a midsize tech company:

  • The PR drafts the press release for a product launch, let's assume it's pretty good: it tells a story, makes a point, does it succinctly.
  • Then the head of comms reviews it, make more of the key messages, it's a bit more evangelical, but what can you do?
  • Then the head of product reviews it, and adds a load of technical detail that probably no one is ever going to read cos it's very boring.
  • Then the head of sales gives it a quick once over, and just adds 'world's leading' to the company descriptor, cos he's read press releases before and they always have that.
  • Then the head of the division takes forever to review it because he is so very important, and adds some outlandish testosterone-fueled statement that says more about him than it does about the product launch.
  • Then the company lawyer reviews it, and she removes anything remotely interesting at all and what's left is littered with trademark symbols.
  • Then, and only then, can the PR send it out - obviously three weeks late and to howls of derision from the very same journalists that she really rather admires and would very much like to impress...

2 comments:

  1. Hmmm....my pet game when reading newspapers these days is picking which articles are essentially topped and tailed press releases.

    There are so many, and the broadsheets do it a lot more than the trash-sheets!

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