How Not To Send Press Releases to Journalists

Now, don’t quote me on this, but I think I may have encountered the strangest PR firm ever this week. It’s not so much the information they’ve been sending me – actually, the information is relevant to my current Huge Project O’Doom, and I’m assuming they’ve been sending it for this reason (I didn’t contact them, so I don’t know) – it’s the manner in which they send it that’s so very strange. For instance:

1. All emails come to me from a Yahoo email address (complete with numbers on the end because they couldn’t get the name they wanted, obviously. Not that the name they’ve picked has anything to do with their firm, as far as I can tell….) which gives absolutely no clue as to the sender’s identity. The ‘From’ line in the email is just this email address. Obviously this doesn’t make me think their emails are spam AT ALL.

2. There is no signature on the email to give me a clue as to the identity of my mysterious correspondent – nor have they bothered to introduce themselves. This helps me build a relationship with the PR, you see. Oh no, wait – it doesn’t really, does it?

3. There is rarely any accompanying text with the press releases attached to the emails. When there is, it will only ever be a couple of lines, all in lower case with no punctuation, saying something like “this is for you i will send more when i have it” This gives me lots of incentives to open the mysterious files attached! I love a good mystery, me!

4. The subject line is normally something like: FW: FW: FW: FW: Edinburgh. Again, no way could that be mistaken for spam.

5. The reason for all the forwards? Well, rather than having the press release they’re sending me approved by their client and then creating a new email in which to send it to me, they simply forward on the email discussion they’ve been having with said client. This is nice of them, as it gives me the opportunity to find out things that they don’t actually want me to know. Thanks, Bad PRs!

6. The press releases they send are sometimes in .pdf format. Sometimes I have to open a zipped folder to get to them. There is never any indication as to what these files will contain, so sometimes? I just don’t bother.

7. Further insight into the inner workings of the client’s company (and, indeed, the process they have gone through to create their press release) is given by the fact that rather than sending me a “clean” copy of the press release, they often send me the changes tracked version instead. Seriously, this has happened at least four times now.

And the press releases themselves? Well, here’s the strangest thing of all: they’re actually not that bad. And they do, at least have an “issued by XXXX on behalf of XXXX” line at the bottom, which was the only clue I ever had as to who these people are.

Another weird thing? Their client is actually quite a big name in their particular niche. I can’t help but wonder how much they’re paying to have someone forward me their internal emails, hmmm?

DISCLAIMER! This is just one rogue PR firm I’m talking about here! All other PRs are fab!

3 Comments

  • Linda says:

    Pure class. My favourite from a PR client this week: Please change the wording of this press release, it is too much like what a newspaper would say.

  • Amber says:

    God, that’s hilarious, Linda! Tragic, but hilarious…

    My bunch emailed me again this morning. (Deadline passed last week, but I’m obviously on their radar now). Totally blank email, no subject line, zipped file containing press release and absolutely MASSIVE pictures – because we all know it’s a great idea to send lots of massive pictures to freelancers who have no need for them. Oh, and the press release had the changes tracked.

    I’m actually seriously considering replying to them and letting them know (in a nice way, natch) that this is really not good practice, and they’d get better results if they just did a bit of…tweaking… with their email practice, but think it may just make me sound like an insufferable know it all. Hmmm.

  • Sorry, Amber, but I highly sugggest that you do educate these people on proper email and press release etiquette. Otherwise, the rest of us will have to tolerate their ignorance.

    Actually, the reason you should correct them is because it reflects badly on the rest of us in the “writing biz”.

    Everyone in marketing has to rely to a certain extent on the willingness of journalists to work with us. The more they get abused by people in our field, the less cooperative they will become.

    Educate away!

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