Glossing Over the News Release

At yesterday’s PCNY lunch, I sat next to BusinessWire‘s Christine Corey. “How’s business?” I wondered. “As good as ever,” she replied.

For those who follow this space, you may have noticed my last post in which I decried Vocus for inaccurately tagging me in its media database as a tech reporter. Suddenly, scores of irrelevant (to me) news releases of dubious news value are flooding my inbox daily.

Moreover, Vocus, unlike its prime competitor in the automated news release distribution space, Cision, offers no easy mechanism to secure removal from its database or even a way to self-modify one’s editorial beat. One can only request to unsubscribe to the individual sender, i.e., “If you would rather not receive future communications from [company’s lazy PR person], let us know by clicking here.” I thus tweeted an appeal this morning to @vocuschairman to have my name removed. Let’s see if he’s listening.

But back to the point of this post. Hearing how well BusinessWire, and presumably its competitors Marketwire and PR Newswire, are doing, I began to understand why media relations pros are finding it harder than ever before to stand out in the tsunami of mostly superfluous emailed news releases to journalists. The news release trade is simply booming…to the detriment of those trying to break through.

Lavinthal (US Weekly), Bergamotto (Lucky), Langston (Fitness), Blitzer (Beauty Blitz), Pinson (NBC 4 Thread NY)

The beauty/fashion journalists who sat on yesterday’s Publicity Club on New York panel (like the many before them), maintained that email is the preferred mode of engagement. All admitted receiving hundreds of emailed PR pleas a day of which only a very few subject lines prompt a click through. Most, they agreed, are misguided. (Concise, accurate and grounded subject lines remain key.)

Someone in the audience asked about following up. The panelists concurred that following up is not verboten, but wait a week or two. Some appreciated a gentle email reminder since viable story ideas often get lost in the mire. (No phone calls, please.) If the reminder also falls on deaf ears, it’s time to move on. Reporters from other beats, like tech, bristle at the notion of the follow up. “You mean my email doesn’t work?”

Lori Bergamotto, style contributor to Lucky Magazine and a frequent guest on the morning and daytime talk shows, gave props to the PR peeps who follow her on Twitter. She cited one enterprising pro who quickly fulfilled her urgent tweeted appeal for a shaded lip moisturizer. It wound up being featured on a network morning show. She and others have used Twitter’s friend/follower mechanism to build strong relationships with her PR sources.

As for the lowly news release, it’s extremely rare that an unsolicited (mass-emailed) news release landing in a reporter’s email box will result in editorial coverage from that reporter — even if it is the right reporter for the story. No reporter wants to be among the many.

On the other hand, I did notice something today that I haven’t seen very often. A reporter for one of the world’s most influential tech websites (someone with 17K+ followers on Twitter) tweeted a link to a…BusinessWire-issued news release. Oh well. Long live the news release!

Photo: Peter Himler using a Canon PowerShot SX20 IS

1 Comment

  1. Cassandra Pean
    May 23, 2011

    <span><span>First and foremost I apologize for any inconvenience you have been experiencing. </span></span><span><span>We issue thousands of releases daily and most our customers choose who they contact carefully. Still</span></span><span>, there are some PR professionals who send press releases without establishing relationships or doing the necessary research. However, w</span><span>e at Vocus actively and strongly discourage our clients from sending pitches and press releases to journalists, reporters or bloggers without first researching to ensure the topic is relevant for the recipient.</span>