It’s a question that’s been put to me time and time again – and I’ve asked it myself when in various journalism job and up until now, I’ve wondered if perhaps Oli Norman of Dada had a point when he bemoaned the lack of Scottish PR talent.
Now I don’t know every PR person in Scotland, but I know there are a helluva lot of good operators up here and I consider myself lucky to have learned or worked with a lot of them, but ultimately a lot of journalists still think PR output is crap – in fact they would use stronger words.
A lot of reporters and news editors moan about the quality of news releases – and this has been bugging me because a lot of ex-reporters are now PR types, so surely the one thing you could count on would be a decent press release.
Well, no, as it turns out.
I’ve seen lots of reporters come into PR over the last few years and asked them – after they’ve written it – if they would use their own release and the answer, more often than expected has been ‘naw’.
And why? Most common answer was that the release was about what they saw as a non-story (but one the client had demanded a release about), however the second point was more telling: it was written like a press release and not a news story.
Upon further probing, it transpired that the hacks-turned-flacks were writing what they thought was press release style – based on what they had been handed/seen in the newsrooms they had worked in.
So while there might be a lot of talent up here now, the sins of sloppy writing in the past are still impacting on the trade today.
In closing then, a tip for hacks who jump over: a press release for a news page should be written like a news story for the publication you are aiming for.
Do that and at some point I can guarantee your release will be cut and pasted straight in with just a byline (never yours mind) added on.