Pet peeves with press releases

The press release process just isn't as streamlined as it could be. What I do like are press releases copied straight into an email message, with the pictures attached or linked separately. The text is easily copied, retains its run-on qualities. Here's why:

1. I get over a hundred emails about press releases, events and interviews a week. Admittedly some people may get about as many in a day, but when you have many emails, it helps to say what your email is about in the email subject head - invitation, interview, question, or release?

2. As a follow-on, I pick and choose which emails to open. Those which do not have the vendor's name at the beginning get passed over. So do those which look like direct marketing.

3. Time is limited - both to check email, and to feature any of the emailed releases on the blogs. As a result, calls to check "if this release is relevant" or "if you have any questions" don't really work any more. The releases are generally relevant. I don't have questions. But the answer to the elephant in the room is probably no, I can't feature your release because I don't have the time to do so.

4. Cover notes that basically repeat what's in the press release. I can easily skip to the actual release, after all. If you must have a summary, either make it really short.

5. Cover notes that add details which are not in the press release, for example local customers or statistics. It's hard for me to tell what's not in the press release, unless that's highlighted.

6. Statistics which are out-of-date. I consider statistics dated more than a year ago to be obsolete.

7. PDFs. I hate them. Sometimes, text in a PDF cannot be copied. When it can be copied on my phone, it can only be copied a page at a time which is rather tedious. When I copy text in a PDF over into the blogging software, the formatting disappears. Text no longer runs on and I have to spend time reconnecting sentences and paragraphs. Pictures can't be copied over easily either. I have to resort to screen captures.

On a related note, Dropbox allows documents to be opened on the phone, but doesn't allow any of the text to be copied, so I can't do up a blog post on my phone even if I wanted to.

8. Pictures - typically infographics - sent as PDFs. Blogger doesn't accept PDFs as a picture format. I can only do screen captures, and because of the time constraints typically only capture part of the infographic. It is impossible to capture fancy designs on a long portrait-style infographic and still keep the text readable. JPGs please!

9. Fancy layouts in press releases. These are the ones with quotes and sidebars in separate text boxes. Each text box usually has to be copied separately.

When pictures break up the text in press releases. It looks pretty and makes it more readable, but my layout isn't going to be the same as your layout. I'm not looking at your press release to read it, but to copy it so that I can work with the text in the document. When I can only copy chunks of text instead of all of the text, it slows the process down.

10. No pictures. These days pictures are help in getting more views for the story. Please, please, please send pictures or a link to download them.

11. Pictures sent as a huge WeTransfer or zipped file. While I like pictures, I don't need many of them. I want to be able to look through what you have and pick a couple, not download all 20 of them as a 100MB file. Flickr, or cloud storage options such as Box, Google Drive, OneDrive and Dropbox allow me to browse first.

12. Pictures sent without attributions or captions. Pictures accompanying stories are very helpful, unless there are no captions. Sometimes it is impossible to guess who the people in them may be, or what is being illustrated in a picture.

13. Videos sent to be hosted on the blogs. I only have so much storage space for all the content. I can't host videos, but am happy to link to them as appropriate.

14. Footnote mayhem. Sometimes footnotes are listed in the body copy, without corresponding explanations. Sometimes there are more footnotes than are listed in the body copy. Sometimes there are plain too many footnotes.

15. Footnotes that reference a citation of research or statistics, instead of the actual research or statistics. This works fine if there are no other links, but there often are links available. Why not go straight to the source of the information?

16. Redundancy. I don't mind summaries ahead of the body copy, but sometimes you get a lot of repetition about the same product in different parts of the press release. There is no need to say the same thing so many times.

17. Clarifications on currency. When a dollar symbol is used, it is not always clear which currency is meant. If a US company issues a press release from Singapore, I will assume that dollar figures are quoted in Singapore dollars. This might however not be the case at all.

18. Not putting the most important information first. The current trend is to have a note that a vendor has conducted some research. That's not as important as the findings of the research. It would make more sense to list some key findings in the first paragraph.

19. Summarising what happened at an event. It's fine that several speeches happened and everyone learned a lot, but my readers aren't interested in reading the minutes. What would be more helpful would be to get key takeaways from the speeches that anyone can learn from and apply. 


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