Is vague the new grey in PR?

Is it the hot weather or is there another reason for a plague of vague press releases?

Lately, as part of my journalist role, I’ve been receiving a lot of press releases that not only miss the occasional detail but sometimes the entire story: awards to companies for something or other, presentations to an individual who worked for a couple of organisations, a financial services provider supplying . . . financial services.

Now, every journalist has specific interests and what’s interesting about the role is discovering a nugget about the topic or area you cover. I enjoy picking up the phone to find out more about a story, but not to dig out the basic details so I can figure out whether it’s interesting or not.

These press releases have come from press offices of UK government agencies and business organisations as well as from private companies. Does it matter?

Well, clients are paying fees to PR agencies and employers paying staff to produce and distribute these press releases when a lot businesses now promote themselves very effectively. Last week, I suggested an idea for a photo to accompany a company’s press release and the next morning I received a high quality image from them by email. There was no PR agency involved and I didn’t receive a tiny 72dpi, badly posed image, like the government agency sent.

If that’s the case, why use a PR agency or corporate marketing professional? Why not do it yourself?

I see it as a warning to anyone in PR, marketing and communications to sharpen up and provide the value that clients and employers expect . . . or perhaps they won’t want to pay for us any more.

Posted via web from z2zine

Too much to handle?

There are few people in business who have enough time to sit twiddling their thumbs. In fact, the reason for the gap between our last blog and this one is that we’ve been extremely busy. So what do you do when new business enquiries go ballistic and there isn’t any time to blog, send out press releases and manage all your other marketing activities?

The worst thing you can do is to stop everything. The most important aspect of all marketing and communications is to do them regularly, even if only in small doses. They really are like great locomotives which require a lot of effort to start from a standstill, but far less to keep rolling at low speed.

The danger of letting your marketing activities stall is that they will take a long time to restart if you find business drops off and you suddenly need to generate new enquiries. By keeping everything ticking over, web sites and blogs will continue to work for you and attract enquiries.

So take this into account when planning your marketing and communications to ensure that, however busy you are, you don’t neglect them. We’re still very busy, but finding time to keep this blog rolling.

After our last blog, have you checked your content? We were alerted to a broken link on one of our web pages and fixed it, as there can never be room for complacency.

z2zine tomorrow: More words are not any easier to understand

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What can a press release do for me?

When something happens in a business, a press release is often used to tell the world about it.

Fine.

Does the world listen?

Not everyone: perhaps 10, 100, 1,000 or a million, depending on how interesting the news is, how well the story is told and what else is happening that is newsworthy.

So what’s the point of a press release?

To tell an interesting story that people will want to hear.

Is that all?

To be of any use it should link back to you so that people make a note of your name and awareness of your business grows. Depending on the strength of the story, the press release could attract actual business through visits to a web site or real shop, telephone or mail orders, attendance at events or other responses.

But it’s too much to rely on a single press release to drive continuing sales. It’s a good idea to plan a whole public relations programme over a period of time, based on a number of press releases, articles, events and other activities and tied in to the rest of your marketing communications. Identifying an objective (eg getting a new product name known by your customers) and planning your press release can make the difference between it reaching hundreds or thousands of people or just reaching a couple of journalists on its way to the bin. And so can the way you tell your story: bare facts are likely to be as exciting as reading a tax return, while a real story, such as how you turned a near disaster into a success, can capture your target audience’s imagination.

Like everything else we do in business, we’re more likely to get the best out of a press release if we understand what we want from it and how it can achieve this for us.

After Friday’s blog, have you thought about your writing or blogging style and how you appear to others?

z2zine tomorrow: Does anyone know what you do?

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