Why that rubbish press release isn’t the PRO’s fault

Don’t you just love it when clients listen to your recommendations and then insist on making a press release read like something out of a sales brochure!

I never cease to wonder why some corporate clients employ and pay a PR agency for professional input, strategic thinking and work, when they clearly think they know best anyway.

The "knowing best" includes: messaging; which journalists to pitch to; tone of voice; and actual wording. And then, guaranteed results are demanded! This is why payment upon performance can’t be a good idea – the hard work is done, the time is spent, but with content that you have no quality control over.

Adding insult to injury, journalists just don’t understand the notion of “having a client“ and prefer to think that you are a rubbish writer, with a complete lack of professional judgement , as the release you have just sent them is badly pitched, with a wishy-washy news hook.

Journalists seem to be incapable of working out that “the client made me write this crap”, and that we would not write anything like this of our own accord. Badly and salesy written press releases are a result of having to go through the corporate channels where every little ego on the way has to have their say and make their mark. But, of course, if the results aren’t achieved, we get the blame for it.

Then there is our all-time favourite client comment: “We want to show we are thought leaders in our industry, and we want you to place white papers that we will be writing”.

Three things to point out there:

1. Most of them don’t understand their own industry well enough to know what kind of cutting-edge creative thinking they need to be “thought leaders“.

2. Most people don’t understand what a white paper is – no, it is not a “‘great sales idea“.

3. When did you last succeed in “placing” a white paper with one of the nationals?