27 August 2007

Mass Email Press Release Error

This story about a "PR disaster" is kinda nice to read - the view from the other side.

I receive loads of emailed press releases. Occasionally the senders make the classic mistake of sending it with the full list of recipients visible in the CC: field, not hidden in the BCC: field.

It doesn't happen very often. The anonymous writer quite accurately describes the amount of effort and cross-checking that professional PRs normally put into writing and distributing releases...which is why errors like this (and typos) stand out.

(off topic: what bizarre mental process/deficiency is it that allows you to proof-read something a dozen times and yet the very moment you commit - send it to the printer, publish it on the website/blog, or hit the email send button - the most glaring, in-your-face, ta-dah typo leaps out at you!!!)

But I am surprised at the reaction he got. Why such hostility?

It's true. Most journos DO treat PRs with disdain bordering on contempt (although they usually disguise it pretty well when there's something on offer like a press trip!). It's largely because in journo circles it is viewed as 'politically correct' to distance yourself from PRs in order to be seen to be squeaky clean and independent. But too many journos take the 'fashion' too far, especially when they are in the company of other journos at the workplace. (You want to hear what my journo guild chums say about PRs when they get together! Mind you, it would be interesting to be a fly on the wall when PRs are discussing journos too.)

It's also true that sometimes PRs do make crass mistakes that are either irritating or make life more difficult for the journo (more on those in a moment).

But accidentally revealing your mailing list is hardly a PR disaster!

What? The hapless journo is so dense he/she didn't realise this wasn't an exclusive story, hand-made just for them, and is insulted to be given a mass-marketed release?!?!

On the contrary. When I get them I feel sorry for the PR who has accidentally revealed his hand and intrigued to see who else is on the list.


No, here are much more serious errors for PRs to worry about making. (See my 'Golden Rules' for writing a press release.) In particular the two cardinal sins:

1) Leaving it un-dated.
2) Not being available for follow-up enquiries.

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