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Despite Money & Talent: Why Most News Releases Fail :

Despite Money & Talent: Why Most News Releases Fail

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Although the idea of a news release is to generate media attention, the huge proportion of unused releases suggests something is wrong; somehow even promoters who know the mechanical requirements for good releases (names, phone numbers, release dates, etc.) are off the track.

How is it possible to create a news release that’s unusable even though the subject is potentially newsworthy? Botched news releases, unfortunately, are easy to concoct, particularly when the promoter doesn’t understand why a release is imperfect.

Case #1: “‘Federal lawmakers will have to ease tax restrictions on domestic feldspar production if industry capacity is to rise,’ according to Homer T. Smith, president of the Obscure Minerals Council.”

On its own this release is okay. The difficulty is this: Homer has denuded an entire forest knocking out daily releases for the past five years.

Editors receiving email and envelopes from Homer don’t open them because Homer is just not important enough to be a daily news feature. The tragedy for Homer is that every so often he says something which deserves coverage.

Case #2: “At a recent convention of all major mechanical testing associations, Lazlo T. Hunzindonger, executive director of the National Coalition for Micrometer Reform, announced that an independent standards review committee, which will have a major impact on mechanical testing, has been established and is now in effect.”

For all the information it conveys, this release may as well be written in a particularly obscure Babylonian dialect. What’s the point? Why will the new committee make a difference? From whom or what is it independent? When is “recent?”

Case #3: “Fromqualf Industries announces the introduction of the Fromqualf QUADRAPOWER LASER REAMER, a remarkable improvement on the Fromqualf DYNOPOWER LASER REAMER. The new Fromqualf QUADRAPOWER LASER REAMER will use LASER POWER to vaporize as many as FOUR olive pits SIMULTANEOUSLY, thereby increasing productivity in this KEY FOOD PROCESSING AREA.”

The difficulty here is that Fromqualf has produced nearly unreadable copy because it’s name is used repeatedly and far too many words are capitalized. Why not re-write the same information in plain language and drop a few “Fromqualfs.”

Case #4: “The greatest event in computer history will occur today when King Arthur Computers introduces the amazing, wondrous, labor-saving Round Table #111, a computer that will revolutionize the entire computer industry if not the Western World .
. . .”
Journalists are constantly bombarded with new idea and product announcements, many hawked in terms that would embarrass P.T. Barnum, were he alive. Reporters tend to view such claims with skepticism, in part because a single day may bring three “wonders,” six “miracles,” 14 “marvels” and at least one “awesome.”

Case #5: It’s 9 AM sharp when a delivery truck pulls up with what looks like a carton of lead pipes. But wait! It’s not building materials, it’s merely a single news release of immense proportions; a 26-pounder. Can it be that a reporter will devote an entire day — or week — to reading this massive document? Is it true that the entire release is single-spaced? Can it be there is no cover letter, summary or index? Does anyone believe reporters will use such releases for anything other than door jams, pressing flowers, or ballast?

Case #6: “The Central Club will feature Govenor Hern Simth as its guest speaker on . . . .”

If a release is full of errors, particularly names — Governor Henry Smith in this example — journalists may wonder about the credibility of both the release and its promoter. At a minimum, a release should be read by several people or checked with a computer spelling program before it’s mailed.

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